As the death toll from coronavirus continues to climb in the Bay Area, funeral homes are trying to balance their employees’ safety with their want to serve grieving families.
At Bay Area Mortuary Services, they have made funeral arrangements for those who’ve died from COVID-19 and that includes taking extra precautions and sometimes having tough conversations to reduce the risk of spreading the disease.
Instead of a crowded chapel of mourners, state health leaders said only 10 people can now attend a funeral and they must sit six feet apart. This is why many funeral homes are offering a different way for families to say goodbye.
“What we are doing is live streaming the services so families can still watch and see what’s going on,” said Jeanette Weinert from Bay Area Mortuary Services.
The San Jose mortuary service has already helped families who’ve had relatives die from COVID-19. To protect their staff, from drivers to embalmers, they’ve made some changes in how the bodies are handled.
“We will suit up to make sure no aerosol sprays from the embalming table or from water splashing and we wear full face masks and shields and double gloves,” said Janette Weinert.
While the CDC recommends protective equipment for funeral service workers, it said there is no evidence to suggest COVID-19 could be transmitted by the deceased.
“We are more concerned about the infected live people than those who’ve passed from the virus,” said Weinert.
A concern that hasn’t materialized yet is a surge in bodies. In Spain, they’ve had so many people die so quickly, that they’ve had to turn ice rinks and other facilities into makeshift morgues.
While it’s not the case in the Bay Area, corners are putting contingency plans in place just in case.