Earlier this week, the federal government announced that the “social distancing” directive initially designated for a 15-day period would be extended for another month, until the end of April, to help contain the coronavirus pandemic.  Although the news was met with a collective groan from a population tiring of isolation and anxious to return to productive work, the reality is that most Americans appreciate and respect the social-distancing directives. Nearly three-quarters of Americans are adopting significant changes to their daily lives such as avoiding stores and restaurants. vgfkjuhh
The news of an extended isolation period was welcomed by most health experts, especially since the Trump Administration had been flirting with the idea of loosening the guidelines beginning in mid-April to coincide with the observance of Easter.  Even if the federal government had stuck to its heedless plans to prioritize economic activity over managing the public-health crisis, many state governors were unlikely to follow suit.  For example, Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak has ordered all non-essential businesses to remain closed under his mid-March order through April 16. And Gov. Sisolak says that conditions on the ground will dictate whether that order is extended or rescinded, not the calendar. 
The impact has fallen hard on Nevada’s tourism-heavy economy. Nearly forty-percent of southern Nevada’s economy is linked to tourism, with nearly 400,000 jobs depending on it.  Nevada officials hope that the economic “rescue package” passed by Congress and signed into law will provide some relief for affected workers. For his part, Gov. Sisolak imposed a moratorium on evictions in the state of Nevada that is in effect through the duration of the previously declared State of Emergency. Tenants are still required to pay rent for this period, but landlords must work with tenants to work out a repayment plan. Landlords can also oust “dangerous tenants,” though that does not include people who have merely tested positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19). 
Gov. Sisolak’s announcement is a lifeline to many low-income Nevadans who live paycheck-to-paycheck. The order also protects residents of “flexible stay” residences such as weekly motels, provided that they have been housed there for at least 30 days prior to the order.  The order does not reach the unhoused (aka, homeless) population. That population caught headlines earlier this week as officials in Las Vegas painted social-distancing squares into an unused parking lot provided for homeless people to camp.  The move drew criticism given that Las Vegas has some 150,000 hotel rooms that are largely going unused at this time.  Proponents of the move point to several factors, including the speed with which officials had to move after the area’s largest shelter was closed due to a confirmed COVID-19 case, the risk of exposure to hotel staff from housing the unhoused in the vacant rooms, and the challenges of adequately cleaning the rooms once the crises ends. These are difficult times that force difficult decisions, and Nevadans will inform elected officials of their overall approval or dislike for this decision.
Social Distancing Tips and Tricks
As stated above, people across the country, and in Nevada in particular, have shown a willingness to engage in mutual sacrifice to help slow the spread of the coronavirus and allow health officials to gather needed supplies, develop more effective and expanded testing, and hopefully find treatments or a vaccine. Our sacrifice is paid in many ways, including devastating amounts of job losses. We are also paying a psycho-social price by giving up on many forms of direct social interaction. But even as we “socially distance” from one another, we need not become anti-social. Some have even begun favoring the term “distantly socialize” to indicate that we should – and need to – continue having social contact, even if that takes new and different forms. 
Here is a short list of activities people have been engaging in to enjoy virtual interaction:
- Virtual gatherings of friends or family through FaceTime, Google Hangouts, and video conferencing platforms such as Zoom
- Video-conference dance parties
- Virtual classes, like the free 451 Ivy League courses in the above photo
- Online workouts like cardio, body-weight exercises, and yoga
- Book clubs with a virtual get-together function
- Interactive video games and party games
- Watching a show or movie on Netflix and using the new chat plugin to maintain a real-time dialog
- Virtual tours of museums, aquariums 
- Virtual performances of symphonies, operas and ballets , many of which are offered for free during this malady.
For Las Vegans longing for the essence of Vegas life, Thrillist has put together a unique list of activities. Among the recommendations is for a MasterClass account, which includes a lesson in magic from Strip fixtures Penn & Teller. The list also has several book-list items that are Las Vegas-specific, and Thrillist has a separate compilation of some 40 restaurant take-out options from the region. Whatever it is that you miss from the “golden days” of February 2020, you can find a distance-friendly version of it on this resource from Thrillist, be that gambling, high-end cocktails, laundry service, or world-class entertainment. 
Stay safe out there, and try some of these recommendations to stay sane, too!
Image Credit: Senior Airman Alexa Culbert