Funeral Homes Have Graveside Services, Live Streams of Funerals To Slow COVID-19 Spread
For KASU News, I’m Johnathan Reaves. The new directives from the state of Arkansas concerning COVID-19 are impacting the way funeral homes across the state do business. As the numbers of COVID-19 cases increase, the state issued a directive to limit the number of people in a gathering to ten or less. In a press conference last month, Dr. Nate Smith from the Arkansas Department of Health talked about how this would affect funerals.
“It is important for us to remember our loved ones and honor their lives, but COVID-19 can pass easily among family members during funerals,” said Smith. “We are worried about if there are older individuals at a funeral service and we are recommending that there be social distancing and that we have less than 10 at a service. Also, postponing larger memorial services to a later date would help in slowing the spread of COVID-19.”
Funeral Director with Emerson Funeral Home in Jonesboro Amanda Fahlberg says funeral homes have also been following federal guidelines when it comes to COVID-19.
“We are governed by the National Funeral Directors Association and they are going by CDC guidelines,” says Fahlberg. “We are working with families to come up with different ways to limit exposure, including having graveside services, limiting those who attend to under 10 people, and also streaming services on Facebook Live. We are not telling people we can’t have full burial services, we are just trying to follow the rules and help slow the spread and flatten the curve.”
Next we talked to Gregg-Langford Bookout Funeral Home in Jonesboro. Just a note they are an underwriter of KASU. Manager and Funeral Director Jerry Lewis says they are using extra caution when they handle every step of the process:
“We have dealt with other epidemics in the past as well and we treat each one very cautiously and use our protective equipment—which we do all of the time anyway—and we are being extra cautious at this time.”
Lewis says it is a challenging time, but funeral homes are looking at streaming services online and moving larger memorial services to future dates, as well as other options to help accommodate families who lose loved ones. He says the Arkansas Department of Health has been very helpful in guiding the next steps for the future. For KASU News, I’m Johnathan Reaves.