The paranormal investigative team, Paranormal NYC, responds to people in distress who claim their house is haunted. But the pandemic has forced them to hold off on making any in-person visits, which are usually spawned from the 40 to 50 calls they receive yearly.

Lead investigator Dom Villella said people who inquire about his services typically live in fear of the unknown, and often seek to demystify those unknowns.

“It's the bumps in the night, the sounds, and the shadows and the cold spots, but I'll be honest, 98% of the time we figure out it's not paranormal,” Villella told Gothamist. He claims that the remaining 2% of the group's finds are confirmed paranormal activity. But whether real or imagined, Villela says clients find comfort after investigators have confirmed whether they have a problem on their hands.

There are currently five families on the waitlist for an investigation, and Villella doesn’t know when they’ll resume. “It’s for the safety of my team,” he says.

As squishy as the scientific evidence for ghosts might be, studies show that 45% of Americans say they believe in them, with 18% of adults convinced that they've seen or been in the presence of a spirit. That number may be going up in quarantine, since people are spending more time in their homes and reportedly seeing even more unconfirmed paranormal encounters.

Twilight Passages, a paranormal investigation team based in central New Jersey, has also had to stop practicing. Most of their ghost-hunting clients were businesses, so when COVID-19 shuttered New Jersey storefronts, the investigations stopped too.

Sandra Foley, lead investigator, said the team utilizes listening devices to detect spiritual beings and though she hasn’t seen a full-fledged apparition in action, she’s certainly felt their presence.

“Rocks thrown, being tugged on, someone being touched. Orbs. Lots of orbs,” said Foley.

Even though business is now, well, dead, Foley said she knows the spirit world remains very much alive. “The ghosts are still there, but no one can go inside to look for them,” said Foley.

Though it might seem like COVID-19 is slowing the ghost-hunting business, Villella of Paranormal NYC, expects the pandemic to be responsible for more business in the future. He says he has experience with how mass tragedy affects the paranormal, because his group started to get a lot of business after 9/11.

“The same thing’s gonna happen now, because of COVID-19 and people who died of COVID, especially in New York,” said Villella. “It won't happen right away. It will happen in 2022, we'll be bombarded with calls.”

Villella suspects that mass tragedies such as the pandemic, in which death came unexpectedly, often spur even more hauntings. “I think it's one of those things. They linger where they're used to, their homes, their businesses; that's what they think they're supposed to do,” said Villella.

So what should New Yorkers do if they have a ghost and no one to call?

Marie Pohl is a member of Paranormal NYC and wrote a book about looking for ghosts (it’s only available in German currently). She says the key is don't be afraid because ghosts can't hurt people. The goal is to try to listen across the divide.

“I always believe a ghost is a story wanting to be told, or wanting to be explored,” she said. “Say to yourself, okay if there's somebody here, or something, they want to communicate with me. So, what is it?”