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Outbreak Voices: A Barber In New Orleans Shares His Worries About Coronavirus


Chaos at airports in the United States as travelers are asked to undergo health checks at ports of entry, and new travel restrictions go into effect tonight at midnight, affecting flights from Ireland and the United Kingdom. Meanwhile, France has closed cafes, the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower. Spain is also locking down the country. It's all part of a piecemeal but global effort to fight COVID-19 and slow the spread of the virus that causes it, including here at home.

JASON JONES: About the coronavirus - I guess I've been feeling, you know, not too worried about it for myself physically, as far as contracting anything. For my father - he's 80 years old. I've been checking up on him and making sure he's OK.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: We've been reaching out to people all over the country, asking them to share how they're handling this outbreak - what they're doing, what they're thinking, how they're feeling. We'll be hearing those voices throughout the show today. Here's one man's story.

JONES: My name is Jason Jones (ph). I live in the Bywater. That's a neighborhood in New Orleans, La. And I'm a barber, and I own a barbershop in the Bywater neighborhood. You know, we have been taking a lot more precautions to try and prevent any spread of any viruses. We've been wiping down the barber chairs between every customer. We've also been wiping down our work area pretty much between every customer.


JONES: Down here, I feel like people are all kind of on the same page. It's definitely something that has been brought up a lot. I feel like people here - we're kind of used to a lot of things happening, mostly in the way of natural disasters - you know, obviously, Katrina. And people here aren't prone to get panicked right away.

We have festival season coming up. Jazz Fest is huge. A lot of my clients are in the service industry, and they're really worried about that because you take that away - that's going to really affect a lot of people. And in turn, it trickles down to businesses like mine because I do have a lot of clients who might tend to get less haircuts when they're making less money.


JONES: We're pretty much a blue-collar trade, you know? So it's not like something you can - if you're quarantined, how could you - I don't know what you could do, really, to make money. We don't have the luxury of, you know, bringing our work home with us.


JONES: My income is solely this barbershop. At this point, unfortunately I do not have a backup plan for something like this. I'm not sure who does. I'm just hoping that things turn around quickly and that we can figure out how to deal with this going forward. But it is a real threat, and I'm not really sure what I'm going to do.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That's Jason Jones from New Orleans. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.