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How Has A Year Of COVID Changed Nevadans?

Associated Press
Associated Press

This week marks the anniversary of many milestones since COVID-19 hit the state.  

It’s the week that Governor Steve Sisolak ordered all schools, state offices, casinos, and nonessential businesses to close.   

The NFL draft, which was supposed to be held in Las Vegas to kick off the city's entrance into the league, was canceled, Nellis Air Force Base announced its first positive case. Also, this week is the anniversary of Nevada’s first COVID-19 related death.  

A lot has happened to our state over the course of the year: businesses have closed, mental health has been strained, and grimly - more than 5,000 Nevadans have lost their lives to the virus. 


On one year ago:

Dr. Christopher Voscopolous, Director of ICU, Southern Hills Hospital

"Life was difficult at first. I remember our first case here at Southern Hills. It was with that very first case that it hit me that this is a new entity, a new disease that none of us have seen before. At first, there was a healthy amount of fear in that we did not have any known treatments available for this disease and that we would have to immediately go back to the drawing board and start to figure out what we could use to combat this new disease we were facing."

On combatting burnout:

"What I personally kept on remembering was that critical care, I say, is a game of inches. There is a certain threshold in which a critical care patient may make it or they may not. And everything that you can implement for that patient to increase their chances of getting over that threshold, literally, makes the difference between life and death. I never wanted at any point in time for burnout or fatigue to get the best of me because I knew that might mean that I might be just under the mark for yet another patient."

On having to stand in for family members:

"I think it fed upon itself. When you look at the testimonials of many of the patients who survived in our ICU, they talk about the difference between life and death for them was our nursing colleagues going in the room and telling them, 'You will make it. You are strong enough to get over this. We believe in you.' 

And then what happens is that when those patients survive they are very gracious and they share their feedback with us. Whether it's myself or some of my nursing colleagues, or respiratory therapists or pharmacists hear that feedback then we become even more motivated to play those roles."

On patients dying:

"What you realize is both extremes of outcomes [those who died and those made it] show that what people really care about the most is family. When you realize that it makes it easier for you to heal your own mind and heart when you experience so much tragedy."

Natalie Pennington, Assistant Professor of Communications, UNLV

On whether technology like video chatting and Zoom helped us:

"In that regard, we actually found the opposite. Where people that video chatted a lot were actually those who reported higher levels of loneliness as well as higher levels of stress. That definitely tells us that video chat may not be the savior we thought it was."

On why people who used video chat were more stressed:

"What we think probably happened is that video chat is something people weren't as familiar with going into the pandemic. So there is already that degree of discomfort. It gets you kind of closer. You get to see the person to have these cues. You think, 'I'm seeing them. I'm talking to them, that's great!' but it almost makes you miss them more. So, we call it the Uncanny Valley effect to some extent."

On why is emailing, texting or calling better than video-chatting:

 "Phones are actually the best because you have that opportunity to multi-task and you kind of know what you're getting into. It's a one-to-one communication where you're calling your mom or your friend or your sibling and saying, 'Hi!' and you can do the dishes while you talk. I think that makes it a little easier to manage."

On the impact on romantic relationships:

"We did find that people who are in relationships romantically were less lonely and less stressed; however, couples who were also using social media actually had higher levels of stress. To some degree, there would be the jealousy that can happen in a new relationship if you're not able to see each other in person, you're getting online, can certainly weigh on you. 

Colin Patrican, Former High Diver, Le Reve The Dream

On where his life is now:

"The length of this has been very uncertain. I think that's the most difficult part, never knowing when entertainment might come back. We're starting to see some progress with smaller shows... which is a wonderful sign, but as for the larger shows, in the casinos, it's nebulous as to when the restrictions will be lifted and when we'll be allowed to go back to work." 

On dealing with job loss

"We, as performers, absolutely love what we do. This is such an amazing career that we've worked very, very hard and spent many years training for. When this all happened, all of that just kind of felt like a waste if it were to just go away.

A lot of my friends and a lot of my fellow castmates have moved on to other avenues of work. Some have become progressive during this time and gone back and gotten their education or have followed other pursuits."

Annette Wright De Campos, Pantry Cook, Golden Nugget:

On the last year:

"In the beginning, when the pandemic hit, it was very scary for me. I was one of the last workers to be escorted off the property. That was really scary but I wouldn't imagine how to get through this pandemic without the union's help."

On how the Culinary Union helped:

"I haven't worked one day in this whole year. I was able to maintain my health care. We have a union that has fought to keep contracts. They have fought to keep us furloughed in the hopes of us returning to our jobs. They were able to provide food banks for us, for the families that were displaced." 

Natalie Pennington, Assistant Professor of Communications, UNLV; Colin Patrican, Former High Diver, Le Reve The Dream; Christopher Voscopolous,  Director of ICU, Southern Hills Hospital;  Annette Wright De Campos, Pantry Cook, Golden Nugget

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Zachary Green is the Coordinating Producer and a Reporter for KNPR's State of Nevada Program. He reports on Clark County, minority affairs, health, real estate, business, and gardening. You'll occasionally hear Zachary Green reporting and fill-in hosting on the State of Nevada program.