Funeral directors across the state are abiding by the governor’s mandate for social distancing, and only holding services with 10 or fewer people while they help to minimize the spread of the coronavirus.
Chuck Egger of Egger Funeral Home in Newville said they are following what the state is outlining.
“Unless people want to wait, we can hold services off for an extended period,” he noted. “Or we can hold private services now and a memorial service for the public at a later date, or not hold anything until a later date.”
Egger said limiting services to 10 people is going to be tough.
“We are doing the best we can for families, and most people are understanding considering the circumstances,” he added.
He added arrangements are being made over the telephone or via email to limit exposure.
“We’ve never had to do anything like this before, so we are learning one day at a time,” Egger said, noting funeral homes of our generation have always practiced universal precautions to prevent the spread of disease with gloves and masks.
“We always clean and sanitize, but we are stepping it up a little bit. We have grown up in a society where we are more aware of some diseases, so we’ve always taken precautions. We are certainly trying to do everything we can to prevent the spread. We are here for families if they need us, and we are taking all of the precautions to ensure the safety of everybody -- us and them.”
Supervisor William S. Herb Jr. of Fogelsanger-Bricker Funeral Home in Shippensburg said they have also been taking extra precautions.
“We are trying to accomplish private family viewings, private family-type services, and a lot of families are going with graveside services outdoors. Last week we were able to have 50 people, so we spaced out the chairs. We also have two buildings and closed-circuit televisions, so we can keep people apart by using those.”
Herb said if anyone, including employees, is feeling ill, they should stay home.
“Of course we are concerned. We have hand sanitizer everywhere, disinfectant wipes. We are disinfecting door knobs, and writing people’s names in the books so there aren’t multiple people touching the pen. We are also trying to do arrangements over the phone.”
Herb said they have not had requests to postpone services yet, but some families are hoping to schedule memorial services once people get healthier.
“We really take these same precautions, so we are used to doing this,” Herb said.
Fogelsanger-Bricker is posting guidelines for all visitors, with the attached note:
“To our community, the weeks to come are unprecedented and uncertain in many ways. At Fogelsanger-Bricker Funeral Home & Crematorium Inc., we want the families we serve to be safe, educated and informed regarding updates with the coronavirus. In order to better protect families we serve, we are compelled to make adjustments to our services. We will still make arrangements with families in person, but we can also make arrangements over the phone or through email to lessen contact. Visitations and funeral services will still be offered, but will be monitored to limit attendance. We apologize for any inconvenience this state of emergency has caused, and sincerely thank you for your understanding.”