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The coronavirus' disturbing toll on U.S. funeral homes

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The coronavirus' disturbing toll on U.S. funeral homes

The coronavirus' disturbing toll on U.S. funeral homes

Funeral homes and mortuaries across the U.S. are limiting contact with customers in order to avoid spreading the coronavirus, in some cases banning memorial services or livestreaming them to extended family and friends.

This report produced by Jillian Kitchener.

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The coronavirus' disturbing toll on U.S. funeral homes

The coronavirus has transformed every aspect of American life - even death.

It's one of the more disturbing side effects of social distancing - the inability to come together to mourn.

Leading to eerie scenes like these, with empty funeral parlors… with rows of empty chairs.

In Virginia, where only ten people can be in a room at one time - Funeral Director Ryan Moore is giving families the option for a live-streaming video of the service.

(SOUNDBITE)(English) GRAHAM FUNERAL HOME DIRECTOR, RYAN MOORE, SAYING: “All you need is internet access to be here live with us in spirit not necessarily tangible but to participate in our celebration of life services.” There is not only concern about exposure to the virus from those grieving, but also from the dead.

(SOUNDBITE)(English) OWNER OF SALAS BROTHERS FUNERAL CHAPEL, JON SALAS, SAYING: “We have pretty much eliminated any type of service here in our chapel.” Jon Salas runs a funeral home in Modesto, California… where people can no longer view the body of a loved one before burial or cremation.

He’s treating each body as a potential carrier of the virus.

(SOUNDBITE)(English) OWNER OF SALAS BROTHERS FUNERAL CHAPEL, JON SALAS, SAYING: “Maybe that person, that sheet that they're wrapped in, their clothes, the body bag they might be in.

We just don’t know.” And with protective clothing in high demand across the country, Salas says it’s almost impossible for him to find the gear he needs.

With so many challenges, funeral home directors are suggesting families hold memorial services after the pandemic… But that might be of little comfort to anguished mourners looking for closure, and condolences now.



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