Funeral Homes Testify For Higher Capacity Limits
For many, the effects of COVID-19 can be a matter of life and death. And for some, the impact stretches beyond death.
Thursday afternoon, funeral home directors testified in Lansing to be able to give Michiganders proper send-offs despite the pandemic.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, industries and sectors of the economy have been hurting because of restrictions and capacity limits. Unlike retail stores and restaurants, that really depend on the number of customers to make money, a place like a funeral home makes money whether one person shows up or 100. Right now the state limit is capped at 25 people for funerals and the industry is saying it’s not their bottom line that’s hurting, it’s the mental health of the survivors.
“It concerns me that we’re not giving them closure,” said committee chair, Senator Curt VanderWall of Ludington.
Restaurants can be at 50% capacity. Stores can be at 50% capacity. Funeral Homes? A hard cap of 25 people, no matter the size of the rooms.
Michiganders holding funerals in the past year have had to make hard decisions at a very hard time.
“People have been making a choice, don’t drive home or fly home for this,” said VanderWall, “They just don’t get the closure.”
Funeral home directors and grief counselors testified in front of the Senate Health Policy Committee to voice the issues they are seeing. They deal in grief and they have not seen Michiganders able to express these emotions with these limits.
“Those people who are grieving over the last year, have not been getting the normal resources that they would have,” said grief counselor Brigid Lynch.
The state sees funerals as a time when people from multiple homes, come together and hug and hold their loved ones. Social distancing is counter productive. It potentially could worsen the crisis but directors Thursday voiced concern of a different crisis.
“There is a looming mental health crisis because of this limitation and the inability to have funerals,” said Phil Douma, Executive Director of the Michigan Funeral Directors Association.
VanderWall said the next step is working with the Association to put together a COVID-19 protocol plan, that will then be taken to the MDHHS and the Governor’s office.