California funeral homes run out of space as COVID-19 rages

California funeral homes run out of space as COVID-19 rages
Source: AP
2 Min Read

Daily US Times: As communities across the United States feel the pain of a surge in coronavirus cases, funeral homes in the hot spot of Southern California say they have to turn away grieving families because they are run out of space for the bodies piling up.

The head of the state funeral directors association says funeral homes are being flooded as the US nears a grim tally of 350,000 coronavirus deaths. More than 20 million people in the US have been infected by the virus, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Magda Maldonado, owner of Continental Funeral Home in Los Angeles, said: “I’ve been in the funeral industry for 40 years and never in my life did I think that this could happen, that I’d have to tell a family, ‘No, we can’t take your family member.’”

Continental Funeral Home is averaging about 30 body removals a day — six times than its normal rate. Mortuary owners are calling one another to see if anyone can handle the overflow of dead bodies caused by the pandemic, and the answer is always the same: They’re full, too.

In order to keep up with the flood of dead bodies, Maldonado has rented extra 50-foot refrigerators for two of the four facilities she runs in Los Angeles and surrounding counties. Continental has also been delaying pickups at hospitals for a day or two while they deal with residential clients.

Executive director of the California Funeral Directors Association, Bob Achermann, said that the whole process of cremating and burying bodies has slowed down, including embalming bodies and obtaining death certificates.

Cremation might happen within a day or two during normal times, ; but ijn this situation, it takes at least a week or longer.

Achermann said that in the southern California, “every funeral home I talk to says, ‘We’re paddling as fast as we can.’”

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