‘Last Responders’ Brace for Surge in Covid Deaths Across US

Funeral director Kevin Spitzer has been overwhelmed with covid-related deaths in the small city of Aberdeen, South Dakota. He and his two colleagues at the Spitzer-Miller Funeral Home have been working 12-15 hours a day, seven days a week, to keep up with the demand in the community of 26,000. The funerals are sparsely attended,…

US Responders  Brace
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He and his two colleagues at the Spitzer-Miller Funeral Home have been working 12-15 hours a day, seven days a week, to keep up with the demand in the community of 26,000. The funerals are sparsely attended, which would have been unthinkable before the pandemic.

We had a funeral for a younger man one recent Saturday, and not 20 people came, because most everyone was just afraid, he said.

As covid-19 has spread from big cities to rural communities, it has stressed not only hospitals, but also what some euphemistically call last responders. The crush has overwhelmed morgues, funeral homes and religious leaders, required ingenuity and even changed the rituals of honoring the dead.

Officials in many smaller cities and towns learned from seeing the overflow of bodies during last spring's first wave of covid deaths in places such as Detroit, where nurses at Detroit Medical Center Sinai-Grace Hospital alerted the media to bodies accumulating in hospital storage rooms. They watched as New York hospitals and funeral homes marshaled refrigerated trucks to store bodies. More than 600 bodies of people who died in the spring covid surge remain in freezer trucks on the Brooklyn waterfront

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Read original at Kaiser Health News

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