Updated 11:51 CDT on March 15, 2020.
Note: Because this post is based on a rapidly developing situation, it may not reflect the latest guidance and recommendations. For up-to-date information, please refer to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and your state’s health department.
As the situation related to coronavirus (COVID-19) develops, it’s important for funeral professionals to monitor and follow the latest guidelines to help prevent the spread of illness. In addition, the outbreak has implications for travel and for upcoming funeral service events. Below are several resources to monitor as more information becomes available.
COVID-19 Information for Funeral Professionals
The CDC has released information about COVID-19 as it relates to funerals. It includes answers to questions about services for someone who has died of COVID-19 for people who would attend the funeral and for the funeral home staff members who are handling the services.
In addition, the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) has created a COVID-19 page to keep funeral professionals updated on the situation. The NFDA is also posting resources for funeral professionals on its Facebook Page.
Gatherings and Community Events
As of March 15, 2020, the CDC published guidance for mass gatherings and large community events. It recommends that organizers “cancel or postpone in-person events that consist of 50 or more people throughout the United States” for the next eight weeks.
In addition, some local authorities, organizations and venues may be placing other restrictions on gatherings and events during the outbreak. It’s important to monitor the latest guidelines and keep in contact with officials and leaders in your community to stay informed and help slow the spread of infection.
At this time, the CDC is recommending that employers implement strategies to help prevent the spread of illness in the workplace. These include:
- Actively encouraging sick employees to stay home.
- Emphasizing respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene by all employees.
- Perform routine environmental cleaning.
Additional and detailed recommendations are available on the CDC website and will be updated as the situation develops. In addition, your state’s health department may offer additional details and guidance for the workplace.
Funeral Service Conventions and Events
Many conventions and events that were scheduled to occur in the near future, especially those with a large number of participants or that require travel for a significant number of participants, are being canceled or postponed. Notably, the ICCFA Annual Convention & Expo scheduled for March 30-April 2, 2020, has been canceled. In a statement, the organizers explained, “This decision is based on safeguarding the health of our attendees, exhibitors, speakers, staff, and our communities, and takes into consideration the recommendations of public health authorities about limiting large public gatherings and non-essential travel.”
If you are scheduled to attend an event in the near future, be sure to refer to the sponsoring organization for updates about the event. In addition, closely monitor information from the CDC and from local authorities related to travel and event attendance.
COVID-19 and Travel
Travel recommendations and restrictions are changing frequently and vary by location. The CDC website includes information about travel for specific destinations and different modes of transportation.
Some hotels and airlines are making accommodations or waiving fees for those who cancel or postpone travel due to the outbreak. Check with your provider to learn about their policies if you need to make changes to your travel plans.
Thank you for the important work you do to serve families during difficult times. We encourage you to follow recommendations from health organizations and local authorities for the safety and well-being of you, your staff members and your community.