See more of our coronavirus coverage, including community resources and personal stories.

TASCA: It's been a week since bars and restaurants have had to close their in-house operations.  What have you noticed on High Street in downtown Westerly over the last week?

CHOMOWICZ: For me, that's been a big deal because I stay open very late at night and get a lot of the crowds of people that are going to the restaurants nearby.  They'll be over at Perks (and Corks) listening to music and they'll see my lights on and come in.  So it's been really different for it to be so quiet at night.  

There's no parking problems in downtown Westerly.  It is very difficult to see just the emptiness.  I'm hopeful because people are expressing how much they want to be sure that our businesses stay open.  So I think they'll be back.  

TASCA: You mentioned there's optimism and hopefulness right now.  Do you think that feeling will persist if this shutdown is extended or even if the Governor orders a statewide shutdown in the future?

CHOMOWICZ: No.  None of us can stay closed that long.  I really miss Brian's business across the street and Colin's business across the street and Greg's business next door.  My hope is that businesses will be able to survive this.  Maybe it will require some landlords to offer discounts on rent because they don't want to see a lot of emptiness.  So we'll see.

I'm very blessed.  My spouse is working.  There is a paycheck coming in.  My concern is with the kids, especially kids whose parents don't have the means to really help them.  That's my concern.  There's where I get sad and disturbed by what's going on.  I've had the benefit of having somebody to take care of me when I was little.  Not everybody does.  

I don't know where, but I think I saw somewhere that when this is over, there may be only three retailers left: Walmart, Costco, and Amazon.  I've got to believe we wouldn't do that to ourselves.  Nobody wants to live in a town that's dead, where there's just nothing.  

Maybe not everybody fully appreciates how much local businesses contribute through the taxes and the giving that they do in the community.  I've got to believe we'll come out of it.  I'm hopeful.  

TASCA: Jill, thank you so much for taking the time.

CHOMOWICZ: You're welcome, Joe.  Thank you.

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