Nearly every state in the United States is moving toward reopening amid the deadly coronavirus pandemic. This weekend New Orleans will join that list, easing restrictions on their stay at home order.
Parenting in a Pandemic, a Good Morning Jacksonville series taking a virtual look at life across the U.S. heads to the Big Easy where Nikisha Thomas, a mother of two young girls, says although it's been difficult adjusting to life on lockdown but that is where she'll remain.
She says it's just too risky to take her kids anywhere right now.
"I saw images online it is so beautiful the still shots of New Orleans but it's also like there's never a time when the streets are completely clear and it just feels like hurricane season I guess," Thomas said describing the empty streets of New Orleans. "Except there’s no hurricane coming."
Born and raised in NOLA, Thomas has never seen her city void of people.
"It's so weird because the days are beautiful and the scenery is perfect to go out there and no one is out there," Thomas said amazed at what has come of her hometown.
The Bourbon Street she's familiar with is typically filled with tourists and natives alike but it's that same spirit of togetherness that has led to NOLA being deemed a hotspot during the pandemic.
"It took me a long time to grasp what was going on," Thomas said. "I actually kind of went into a shell to process it all."
Fat Tuesday fell on Feb. 25 and the coronavirus was already making its rounds in the U.S. before national leaders and the Centers for Disease Control warned of what was to come.
"When we were told it was a Friday at work that we weren't coming back to work and school was closing down I just kept telling my mom I can't wrap my head around this," Thomas said. "It's much more serious than we are taking it and I can feel it."
Visits to her mother's house on Mondays for red beans and rice, seafood platters on Fridays with the family, daiquiris during Saturday's crawfish boils and beignets in the French Quarter are all traditions snatched away for now.
"Every day I call my mom on Facebook messenger also with my sister," Thomas said. "Sometimes we gather together on a conference call. It definitely helps. I think it's a way to ease the anxiety of not being able to be there and have that fun camaraderie that you normally would have."
Her precious daughters, just five and seven months old are enjoying their extra time at home. Little Aja she says has been even more clingy than usual.
"I think she's kind of struggling to process like 'why can't we do the things we normally do?'," Thomas said. "It's tough. Especially when you see the disappointment in their faces."
One of Thomas' biggest concerns is her father who has a brain injury and is left virtually alone in a nursing home.
"He's not very verbal but we can tell with his nonverbal communication that he understands we're there," Thomas said. "To have him there all alone is very tough. I don't want him to feel alone. But it's one of those things where you can't do anything until you can do something."