What steps should be taken regarding funeral, burial and cremation services in the time of COVID-19? In early June, New York State continues to slowly reopen the economy. However, protective measures are still in place to protect the health and safety of everyone who enters our facilities. PIX1 Some New York families who lost a loved one to COVID-19 may soon receive financial assistance to cover or recover funeral expenses. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez announced Monday that the Federal Emergency Management Administration agreed to help pay for funerals and burials for COVID-19 victims through the funeral disaster assistance program.
Ocasio-Cortez said the program will allow New Yorkers to give their loved one a proper burial without worrying about going into debt. To date, more than 36,300 New Yorkers have died from COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic. Families will have to apply for the funds when they become available, but legislators said that those who are interested can prepare for the application process now. As the number of COVID-19 cases has declined here in New York State, that has also led to fewer restrictions on funeral services, as we're seeing with other businesses and events.
Funerals are one of the events that require caution and guidelines for everyone present to ensure safe services. With the increase in Covid-19 cases in New York, it's vital to be aware of restrictions for certain meetings. It is recommended to be tested after funeral services or any larger group gathering to stop the spread and find out if quarantine is necessary. Lanotte says his state association is now advising member funeral homes to check their available PPE stock in the event of a revival, as some believe it's possible in the fall.
It was a difficult time for those working in the funeral home industry, as they had to enforce those social distancing restrictions and other regulations for those dealing with their pain. During the public health emergency caused by COVID-19, all religious and funeral service operators must keep up to date with any changes in state and federal requirements related to religious and funeral services and incorporate those changes into their operations. In March and April, when New York State was mired in the spread of COVID-19, funerals and visits were limited to immediate family members or very small groups. But CEO Michael Lanotte of the New York State Funeral Directors Association explains how things have improved a bit despite current limits on the capacity of a service.
At a time, in early spring, quite sad, when grieving families weren't even allowed to enter cemeteries or had to stay in their cars if there was a graveside ceremony. For families, the unspeakable loss of a loved one is exacerbated by the substantial costs of funerals and burials that many people can't afford right now, Schumer said. And while obviously a family couldn't delay the burial or cremation of a deceased person, they are now ready to celebrate the more traditional service for them. And funeral directors say that churches and funeral homes, such as those owned by Amigone, are receiving those calls again.
Therefore, there is an opportunity for a graveside service to be held with larger groups than in the past.