Coronavirus prompts local funeral home to take extra precautions to protect embalmers, families

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CONWAY, SC (WBTW) – The coronavirus pandemic has forced some families to have to attend funerals for their family members over services like Facebook Live.

One Grand Strand funeral director says the virus also changes things for funeral directors who are exposed to pathogens much like nurses and doctors are.

Goldfinch Funeral Home Funeral Director Casey Ward tells News13 there’s still a lot of unknowns when it comes to the coronavirus and funeral services.

He says they constantly disinfect when preparing a body for a funeral, but at the same time, there’s no real way to know if the coronavirus has left the body or not.

In a normal funeral service, you could see up to 200 people in Goldfinch Funeral Home’s chapel. However, the coronavirus has changed that and the way funeral directors prepare for a funeral.

“It just trickles down to everything,” said Ward. He says within the Goldfinch Funeral Home locations across the Grand Strand, they’ve held funerals for five people who died after testing positive for coronavirus.

“There’s been some that it was questionable if they had it or not, waiting on test results, so we of course just, in the early stages, the testing took longer so we just assumed and treated it as if it was a corona case,” said Ward.

Their funeral directors are also embalmers, so they’re protected in the same way a nurse would be, using protective equipment when preparing a body for a funeral. But, it’s not just that.

“We have to make sure that all of our equipment, our vehicles, our cots, our facilities inside the building here that we use, particular rooms that we use to prepare bodies, and everything is continually disinfected on a regular basis,” Ward pointed out.

Ward says cremation is the most sanitary route because the virus is destroyed.

If a family prefers a loved one to be embalmed, it’s unknown if funeral workers would be exposed to COVID-19 from the deceased. So for now, they’ll continue to take precautions.

“Unfortunately, because it is such a new virus, a lot of that type of thing is not known,” said Ward.

Ward tells News13 the funeral directors at Goldfinch who also embalm for funerals are on split shifts so that no one who has come in contact with a body who may have had coronavirus does not also meet with family members inside the funeral home.

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