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Funeral home industry adapting to pandemic

Directors believe changes could stick around
Posted at 9:59 AM, Jan 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-26 10:28:01-05

MARTINSVILLE — At this point in the pandemic, many things are being done online instead of in person.

Many people working in the funeral home industry never thought they'd see the day they would go virtual. As restrictions stay in place and COVID-19 cases continue to rise, that's become a reality.

“We've had to get creative with how we do things. The whole 'business-as-usual' model doesn't work anymore. There’s the option of live streaming, and we have worked visitation differently,” said Austin Purkey.

Costin Funeral Chapel in Martinsville is switching how they do things.

From virtual funeral services to drive-thru visitation, their priority is safety and comfort for the family as they start the grieving process.

“It’s not a business; it’s a ministry. We are up to serve our community. We are let into people's personal lives at the most trying time,” said Purkey.

It’s a fluid situation in Morgan County right now.

“We are in red, so only 25 people can be here during services,” said Costin Funeral Chapel owner Kenny Costin.

He says there are many cases in the county right now, and Restrictions are extremely tight.

“It has been abnormally busy. The death rate right now is very high. We have had several deaths this year that are contributed to COVID-19,” said Costin.

As for those who think the virus isn't real:

“We know it is not a hoax because we both have had it. It's definitely not a hoax; it is a real thing, and it impacts a lot of people,” said Costin and Purkey.

These two say even once this is over; they doubt things will return to the way they used to be.

“Funeral service the way we knew it in 2019; we probably won't get back to that stage,” said Purkey.

Right now, since things are so limited, if families are not comfortable coming in, they can plan their loved one's funeral online.

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