Empty Las Vegas Strip

Coronavirus, Dark Days Cast on the Strip

Photos of the Las Vegas strip will strike a chord no matter who you are. If you haven’t created a memorable moment here, you’re still familiar with the iconic images of the lights and architecture that frame Las Vegas Boulevard. Today, the Coronavirus precautions have stripped those titans of their familiar lights and sounds.

Less than a week after the announcement that COVID-19 had reached “Pandemic” status, all major Strip properties closed their doors. All restaurants, casinos and entertainment venues went dark with hopes of returning in 30 days. Hotel garages have been closed and fountains lay silent. The boulevard streets and sidewalks remain open, though you wouldn’t suspect it. In my two-hour photo walk, I crossed paths with only 15 other pedestrians…and three of them were repeats!

I am a Las Vegas based photographer. Though most days I  photograph commercial content as owner of Key Lime Photo, last night called me to capture images of the affect that the Coronavirus has had on this busy city. Las Vegas Boulevard is usually bumper-to-bumper traffic on any given night of the year. New Year’s Eve brings 330,000 people to the Strip. Last night, the silence was overwhelming. I could actually hear the sound of my breath and my shoes as I carried my camera and a tripod around the Strip. Normally, security will stop a photographer from using a tripod for the safety of other pedestrians. There are still a few security guards out there. I locked eyes with one once and the only thing he said to me was non-verbal, “You probably have the virus; please don’t come breathe on me.” Of the 12 other people I saw last night, 7 of them were wearing surgical masks. I wasn’t wearing one, so naturally my mind roller-coastered from “ha…masks…there’s practically zero threat.” to “Maybe if I create short gasps while I walk, then I won’t be as susceptible.”

“Apocalyptic” is the first word that comes to mind. Much of the photo walk felt like a scene from “I Am Legend” or “Wall-E.” The advertisements are still running, but the hotel towers have doused every light. Most of the time, it felt very peaceful. Am I terrible for enjoying portions of my private stroll on the Strip? Guilt reminded me of the Coronavirus headlines that had dominated all channels of social media for the past week. The Review Journal reported that: 219 Casinos Closed, $4.7 billion is to be lost each month and more than 206,000 people are now jobless. And that’s just the Las Vegas Strip! The world will be turned upside down for a while. Now is possibly the easiest time to be kind to family, friends and neighbors. Everyone is in need. Everyone is hurting and I pray we can be there for each other.

These photos show a few of the scenes from my image walk. Though I won’t need a photo to remind me of seeing the Bellagio shrouded in darkness with a placid fountain show, the boulevard with blocks of empty street, or traffic lights changing for no reason.