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Funeral homes change protocols during coronavirus pandemic

Posted at 5:54 AM, Apr 03, 2020

TAMPA, Fla. -- Unfortunately, as we deal with this strange time, people still have to grieve the loss of loved ones. The coronavirus pandemic is dictating how funeral homes conduct burials.

CDC and government guidelines are challenging directors and their staff to change up their protocol.

"At any given time, we have 50 people in the building," Jeffrey Rhodes with Ray Williams Funeral Home said. "Five to 10 in each viewing room, and once we hit that capacity, the other people stay outside. As people leave, others come in."

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Rhodes says he's keeping tabs with his good friend, La'Cheryl Aikens. She runs Aikens Funeral Home.

"We text each other trying to make sure we're on the same page when it comes to following the guidelines," Aikens said.

She says the biggest challenge is trying to control people's natural instinct to comfort one another, even though there are reminders all over the funeral home.

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"They say this is my family," Aikens said. "They're still hugging, they're still kissing, but it's their family, so they feel like its okay."

To keep crowds down, Aikens Funeral Home started live streaming services. Ray Williams Funeral Home began to allow "invite-only" viewings and funerals. Rhodes says he's videotaped a funeral for seniors who didn't feel comfortable being around crowds.

"There have been some churches that have declined having services where we'll move to a graveside," he said.

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As the guidelines change, these essential businesses say they're ready for the task.

"We're committed to providing sympathetic and quality service despite what's going on," Rhodes said.

"We still care. We just want to protect each other," Aikens said.

To see the protocol funeral homes are supposed to follow per CDC guidelines click here.