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Broadway performer and STL native talks live in New York during COVID-19 Pandemic

Richard Riaz Yoder said he 'never thought he'd see anything like it in his life'

NEW YORK — It's been the city hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States.

Two people with St. Louis ties who work on Broadway in New York City spoke exclusively with 5 On Your Side's Brandon Merano Tuesday.

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"I actually haven't seen my friends or hugged anybody since the 12th," said Broadway Performer Richard Riaz Yoder.

It's known as the city that never sleeps, but Yoder said the city is completely different right now.

"Oh there ain't nothing going on here, I mean normally there is music blasting outside because I live in Harlem so there is always something happening but there is nothing," said Yoder.

The Webster Groves native and Broadway performer has lived in New York the last few years but says seeing the city like this is something he could've never imagined. 

"I think the thing that kind of hit me the most or affected me the most was when Broadway closed, because Broadway is always like 'We are going to perform no matter what happens, we're going to do this because it's the old performer's mentality,'" said Yoder.

Jamie Bertoluzzi — whose mother is from St. Louis — dresses those performers but left the city to go back to live with her parents in Connecticut when the city closed Broadway. 

"It was probably the best decision I could've made, I don't think I could've come home to my parents knowing what I know now having been in the city," explained Bertoluzzi.

A city that was flipped upside down overnight. 

"Everything changed that day, that Thursday when they shut down Broadway and everything else started shutting down, everyone knew something was wrong," said Bertoluzzi.

"The city always has so much life and for it not to have that is a little disturbing, I never thought I'd see anything like this," said Yoder.

Now, he's looking forward to the day the city that never sleeps finally wakes up.

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