Funeral homes forced to adapt during COVID-19 pandemic

Published: Jan. 22, 2021 at 5:47 PM EST
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OCALA, Fla. (WCJB) - Florida’s COVID-19 death toll has exceeded 25,000 people.

Hospitals have been pushed to the limit, but what comes next after a patient passes away?

That’s another new problem for people to deal with.

According to the state’s COVID-19 dashboard, there have been more than 550 COVID-19 related deaths in Marion County, and it has forced many funeral homes in the area to adapt.

“We’ve certainly seen an increase in services due to COVID, but we’re staff to be able to accommodate it,” Stephen Tweedle said.

Stephen Tweedle is the Location Leader at Hires-Baxley located on Silver Springs Boulevard.

He said they’ve had to bring in more technology to be able to serve families, but one of the biggest challenges is having families gather while abiding by social distancing guidelines.

“What’s really causing us to have delays is the ability for people not to gather. So in this area people want to be able to share grief together. Grief is a shared experience so the delay that we’re experiencing is more of people saying I want the community to be involved and to help me get through this and so we’re delaying services down the road for that, “he said.

But just five minutes away at Sellers Funeral Home, it’s a different story.

“With COVID-19, itself as the virus, it’s extremely deadly. As far as how it’s impacted our community, it has jut been devastating,” Funeral Director, Brittany Sellers said.

Sellers Funeral Home is a family business that normally holds three or four services per week, but during the pandemic, that’s doubled to about six services per week.

Throughout this pandemic, the virus has impacted different communities in different ways, especially with the African American community.

“I have especially with our African American families. I’m a second generation funeral director, so being in the funeral business all of this time, I have seen a big change in reference to how COVID-19 has infected and also impacted our community as one,” Sellers said.

And adapting through the pandemic is something these funeral home staffers will continue to do so every family is treated with love and respect.

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