TASCA: Talk about what happened when it was revealed last week that two Westerly students tested positive for the coronavirus.  How did that affect your business?  How did that affect you personally?

CHICORIA: When I heard the news, I knew right then that I was going to be out of some work for the foreseeable future.  I'd be losing a majority of my income from gigs.  I also knew that I should probably hold off on lessons at my house for at least one week to see if anyone felt sick.

TASCA: What was your initial reaction when this chain of events began to unfold?  Has this prospect of unemployment sunk in yet?

CHICORIA: My immediate reaction was one word, which would upset my mother and the censors if I repeated it here. 

I wasn't necessarily surprised.  I saw this coming.  I think a lot of us saw it coming in slow motion.  It's frustrating.  In this business, as with much of the nation, most of us live check by check.  Gig by gig, lesson by lesson I get paid.  Not everyone qualifies for unemployment benefits.  Without knowing how long you're out of work, that's obviously deeply troubling.  

I've talked to other musicians in the area about how to go about sustaining lessons not just for our income, but also for the child who's learning or the adult who's learning.  I think the first few weeks of that will be a little rough around the edges.  It's very frustrating for all of us who are in the industry.  

There's going to be a deep economic impact.  The biggest question long-term, of course, is how do you pay for your bills?  It's easy to fall behind on a car payment, right?  Everyone hopes this blows over in a few weeks.  If it doesn't, you adjust to that.  

A lot of people in America live like this anyway.  Before there was a virus, they lived in a situation where week-to-week was a huge thing.  If they lost their job, it was a crisis for them.  It may not have been a crisis for everyone all at once like the one you experience with an event like this.  But it was still significant for them.  

This will be significant for me.  It will be significant for the bars that employ me and for the employees they employ.  But like most people who live week-to-week, it's not like I can tell you that next time I'll have a bunch of money saved up. The money is not saved up because it didn't exist to be saved. 

TASCA: That's a great place to leave it, Mike.  Thanks for doing this.  I appreciate it.

CHICORIA: Thank you for having me. 

[If you have a story you'd like to tell about your experience coping with the coronavirus pandemic, you can email Joe Tasca at jtasca@thepublicsradio.org]