CLAYTON— Every local business has been impacted by COVID-19 in one way or another and Rabun County’s two funeral homes are no exception.
Beck Funeral Home and Hunter Funeral Home, both located in Clayton, have implemented changes to the way they operate in order to stay compliant with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) regarding safe funeral gatherings during the pandemic.
Beck Funeral Home
Sam Beck, Rabun County coroner and owner of Beck Funeral Home, said that his business is operating under recommendations from the state and local governments.
“We’re following all the recommendations from the CDC and government,” Beck said in an interview last week.
He said that only immediate family members are permitted to attend viewings and graveside services at this time.
This is in an effort to not have more than 10 people attend a public gathering, Beck said. He said that they are also encouraging social distancing at these gatherings.
This recommendation of 10 people or less is part of guidelines established by the National Funeral Directors Association.
R. Bryant Hightower Jr., CFSP, president of the National Funeral Directors Association said in a statement that “the association recommends that funeral homes limit the size of services to no more than 10 of the decedent’s next-of-kin until further notice.”
This is in an effort to “flatten the curve of the pandemic; protect the health of attendees, funeral home staff and clergy/celebrant; and reduce the potential for community spread and mass fatalities,” the statement mentioned.
Hightower said in the statement that this guidance is based on “The President’s Coronavirus Guidelines for America” developed to slow the spread of COVID-19.
“NFDA also recommends that services be held at the graveside whenever possible; however, the nature of the disposition, such cremation, may mean a service in the funeral home is more appropriate. Funeral homes should also encourage attendees to follow current social distancing guidelines by setting up seating accordingly,” according to the statement.
Beck said that in an effort to limit social contact at the gravesite, the funeral home is not putting up a tent or putting out seating for family members during the service.
He said that people have to stand at the graveside, otherwise they would be too close to each other.
Beck said that disinfection has always been a priority at the funeral home and that they continue to disinfect often and that their protocols for processes such as embalming are based on CDC and NFDA recommendations.
Beck said that his business is also trying to actively be part of webinars with the CDC and NFDA.
He said that after these COVID-19 precautions are lifted, if a family who had a limited service wants a public service then Beck Funeral Home will allow them to hold one.
“We are trying to do everything to safeguard the health of our community,” Beck said.
Hunter Funeral Home
Kenneth Moore, assistant funeral director for Hunter Funeral Home, said that they also are abiding by guidelines of having only 10 or less people gather.
“We’re not having visitations, just having graveside services,” Moore said.
Moore said that some of the families who have utilized the funeral home plan on having memorial services at a later date.
Moore added that Hunter Funeral Home is open and that they have adequate protective equipment in place to comply with CDC, NFDA and state guidelines.