Minoter and Las Vegas native react to city's COVID-19 slowdown

Photo courtesy: Mark Burckhard
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Las Vegas is a popular vacation destination for North Dakotans flying out of Minot International Airport.

Now, it's like a ghost town thanks to social distancing. Las Vegas native Roger Coleman now lives in Minot and says he can't believe what his hometown looks like.

"Just a real surreal feeling to see it so empty. This [situation] is way, way different just how it's affecting everybody [and] not just big events... going out to eat, anything like that. It just has a big effect on everyday life," Coleman said.

Coleman says it's tough to see a place where he's had great times with his family scaled back due to COVID-19.

"I [have] so many memories there. We always like to travel back and see some family. Or even go to the strip... just having all the good memories of how much fun we've had there, and then seeing it pretty much like a ghost town with still all the nice buildings... it's just kind of a sad, sad feeling," Coleman said.

Coleman has some family members who are laid off from casino work. He says he hopes that Las Vegas can get back to normal by summer.

"There's still a lot to figure out. Hopefully we're going to start going in the right direction pretty soon, but I really have no guess on that one," Coleman said.

Mark Burckhard is from Minot, but now lives in Vegas. He says it's something else walking the five miles from Mandalay Bay to the Stratosphere and seeing all of five people on the Strip.

"You walk into some of these major casinos, and there will be 10 or 15 people gambling... there's nothing like it. When you don't hear slot machines going off in a casino, something's wrong," Burckhard said.

Burckhard is a chef at TPC Las Vegas, and food and beverage workers have been left without work due to closures. He says he's concerned with how a vacation destination can recover compared to other cities.

"When we rely on everyone from around the country and around the world to come here and spend money, it may be a while before people feel comfortable spending $1,000, $2,000 to go to Vegas," Burckhard said.

A city brought to a standstill.