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Coronavirus Update: Online Funeral Services An Unfortunate Byproduct Of Social Distancing Mandate

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The increasing death toll as a result of the coronavirus outbreak is putting a strain on funeral directors.

Now, due to social distancing mandates, it is more difficult to say your final farewell, CBS2's Aundrea Cline-Thomas reported Tuesday.

A makeshift morgue has been erected in the city and hospitals have been bringing in refrigerated trucks. It's all a grim reminder about the virus' devastating impact all across the state.

"So in two days we exceeded the monthly average just in COVID deaths," said Mike Lanotte of the New York State Funeral Directors Association.


The industry is now in uncharted territory and funeral directors are having to take extra precautions.

"It is possible if someone has died of COVID-19 and the family members want to come, there is the possibilities that some of them are in quarantine still or just have come out of quarantine," Lanotte said.

Add to that the fact that social distancing rules limit who can bid their final farewell in person, with many restricting it to only 10 people.

MORECoronavirus Update: Houses Of Worship See Rise In Online Services Streams

That's why Lisa S. Dozier Funeral Services in Brooklyn shares a video with grieving families, offering them a virtual funeral option that can allow more people to participate in the service online.

"They will get an invitation email that they can send to whomever they would like to be a part of the service. Once the person clicks on the link, they're in the room," Dozier said.

CORONAVIRUS: NY Health Dept. | NY Call 1-(888)-364-3065 | NYC Health Dept. | NYC Call 311, Text COVID to 692692 | NJ COVID-19 Info Hub | NJ Call 1-(800)-222-1222 or 211, Text NJCOVID to 898211 | CT Health Dept. | CT Call 211 | Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Virtual services used to be a less popular offering that was primarily used by clients who had family members in other countries.

Now, many families are reluctantly opting in.

It's the next-best thing, but Dozier admitted it's still not the same.

"There's a sense of robbery. It's like the families are being robbed of being able to grieve in a healthy way," Dozier said.

Death on its own is already hard process. The coronavirus outbreak has made it far worse. Grieving families are being left to grapple with how best to say goodbye.

After the burial, some families are planning to hold a traditional memorial or celebration of life service when the pandemic ends.


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