NOEL KING, HOST:
To New York City, where there are more than 80,000 COVID-19 cases and life has changed a lot. Reporter Sally Herships went for a walk in a Brooklyn neighborhood, and she sent us this.
SALLY HERSHIPS, BYLINE: Prospect Park this morning looks normal. It's just after 8 a.m. Joggers are running the loop, singing to themselves. Cyclists are whizzing by. And dog owners are ignoring their pets, staring at their phones. But Holly Williams (ph) says life now doesn't feel normal. She's lonely.
HOLLY WILLIAMS: So I - I have seen people in person. But it's not the same, you know, as, like, going over to a friend's house and watching a movie or having dinner or meeting at a bar to get a couple drinks.
HERSHIPS: For the past four weeks, Williams says, her only regular company has been Bayla (ph), her dog.
WILLIAMS: Bayla, what are you doing?
HERSHIPS: Williams has been sitting on the stoop with a friend but at a careful distance, just like I'm interviewing her - wearing a mask and blue plastic gloves, my mic extended on a long pole. It is not the same.
Nearby, walking down a path a few minutes later, Maddy Fox (ph) says she's made some adjustments, too.
MADDY FOX: Well, mostly we're in our house. And we actually haven't gone outside in many days. But we were at - we...
FOX: 'Cause of what?
HERSHIPS: Maddy says she's scared. She doesn't want her kids - 5-year-old Anya (ph) or 8-year-old Max (ph) - to get sick.
FOX: Yeah, I don't know. I don't really know what's safe.
WILLIAMS: But this morning, they were all at their wit's end. That's why they're at the park early, before things get crowded.
FOX: And now what are we doing?
ANYA: We're playing outside and doing exercise.
HERSHIPS: A lot is different for the family now. The playground is closed. The kids' grandparents live downstairs, but they're not allowed to see them. They're too worried about making their grandparents sick.
FOX: What's different about life now than before?
ANYA: You have to be careful of people (ph).
HERSHIPS: Then Maddy asks her daughter, how is she feeling?
ANYA: I feel scared.
FOX: I'm sorry, sweetie. We're going to be OK.
HERSHIPS: A half hour later, it's time for the stores to open. But walk a couple blocks away, the barber shop, Chinese takeout place and the bar on the corner are all closed. The diner is open for takeout. But the owner, George Domadakalous (ph), says customers are not coming.
GEORGE DOMADAKALOUS: It's a ghost town, you know, which it should be. You know, got to be - stay safe.
HERSHIPS: Domadakalous says he had to lay off almost all his staff. Across the street is the laundromat. Anthony Laccona (ph) owns the place with his dad - a gentleman of a certain age. When I walk in, the first thing I do is ask if his dad is still coming to work because this is my laundromat and my neighborhood.
ANTHONY LACCONA: Yes. Thank God him and my mother, they have no health issues other than being stubborn Italians. So it's OK by that.
HERSHIPS: Anthony says one of the first things people do when they leave quarantine is their laundry. But still, business is slow. Customers walk in and out wearing surgical masks. Anthony is wearing bright yellow gloves. He sterilizes the machines every couple of hours and sprays a lot of Lysol.
LACCONA: Only thing I could say - listen - life goes on. You just got to keep on going. Just be friendly to everybody. You know, keep your distance, of course. But we'll get through this, one way or another.
HERSHIPS: Back across the street from the park is the local movie theater. It closed weeks ago. Where you used to look up to see movie titles, now on the marquee, all black block letters spell out, see you on the other side.
For NPR News, I'm Sally Herships in Brooklyn.
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