COVID-19 cases connected to funeral services

Published: Oct. 15, 2020 at 10:28 PM EDT
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IRONTON, Ohio (WSAZ) - Holding someone tight after the loss of a loved one is a hard concept to let go of.

“People go to funerals and just want to hug somebody and offer encouragement, and you can’t do that now,” said Georgia Dillon, the health commissioner in Lawrence County, Ohio.

Dillon says they’re seeing an increase in rates of positivity associated with funerals.

“It’s hard, because a lot of older people go to funerals,” she said, “and they want to comfort other people. You may have a dinner for the family. You may have a dinner after the funeral. Eating together in a closed room without funerals is very spreadable. We have that problem.”

Fred Kitchen, owner and director of Henson & Kitchen Mortuary in Barboursville, says like everyone else, they’ve had to change the way they operate because of COVID-19.

“Our crowds are certainly smaller than they used to be,” Kitchen said.

Kitchen says they stream their services so people can watch from home. He also says they’re asked to hold services without handshaking, pats on the back, or hugging.

“There is still an occasional widow that says she needs a hug,” Kitchen said. “How do you say no to that?”

He says they’ve held several funerals for people who’ve died of the coronavirus. In those cases, family members weren’t allowed to be close to their dying loved ones in their last days and weeks, and relatives were unable to say proper goodbyes.

Kitchen says he worries about long-term negative effects that will have on people.

“How that equates out to us in society five or 10 years down the road is yet to be seen, but it’s concerning,” he said.

Dillon is reminding everyone not to forget the risk of the virus spreading during the mourning process.

“If we don’t stop, the numbers are going to continue to go up,” she said.

Copyright 2020 WSAZ. All rights reserved.

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