Funeral homes in Parker County are adjusting their procedures after the COVID-19 outbreak.
As instructed by the U.S. and state government, crowd sizes at services are being limited. On average funeral services in Parker County can attract 50-150 people.
Galbreaith-Pickard Funeral Chapel is limiting how many people can attend visitations at once to avoid big crowds, and funerals will be limited to immediate family only and other family and friends will have the option of viewing the service via live stream, President James Plowman said.
“I have people on staff that don’t need to be exposed, so I’m as concerned about my staff as I am for the families and all that are coming in,” Plowman said. “The whole deal is we need to be very proactive to try to flatten out the curve of the progression of the virus.”
White’s Funeral Home is taking a similar approach. Services are being limited to 10 people or less with live broadcasting available. Some families are opting for an immediate burial and to postpone the services until later when a larger group can attend, Anita White, whose family owns the funeral home, said.
Both funeral homes are looking into ways to schedule arrangements for services digitally. Plowman said establishing a digital method at Galbreaith-Pickard Funeral Chapel is in the works.
Overall, families have been understanding of these new temporary restrictions.
“They understand the need for precautions, and there are some family members that may be elderly that aren’t even able to come in to make arrangements, so we can do a lot via email and video conferencing where we can talk one-on-one with the families via the computers and stuff now,” White said. “We’re able to work with them however they see fit.”
Though as of Friday morning there are no positive cases of coronavirus in Parker County, Galbreaith-Pickard staff are treating every cadaver as if it is infected, Plowman said.
“My staff is going to take the universal precautions,” Plowman said. “I actually worry more about my staff during funerals because then we’re dressed in a suit, then we’re not wearing gloves and face masks and that type of protective equipment that we would if we were handling the deceased.”
Also, both funeral homes are prepared to address coronavirus deaths that may be on the horizon.
“We pay attention to the news in places where they have many cases and there are many deaths,” White said. “We’re members of the National Funeral Directors Association and the Texas Funeral Directors Association and we’re constantly in communication with them to see how other funeral homes are handling the influx of deaths. We hope it’s not coming here, but we have to be vigilant and paying attention to what other places are doing.”