WASHINGTON — The coronavirus has had an impact on the way people live their daily lives and is now affecting what happens when a loved one dies.
Federal recommendations on mass gatherings limit the number of people who can show up to funerals to say their final goodbyes.
"Life goes on and so does death," said Andre Thompson, with McGuire Funeral Home.
Death and saying goodbye to a loved one is a grim reality that is sometimes difficult to cope with and talk about.
Thompson has decades of experience as a funeral director and knew there would be changes to the mortuary industry when the coronavirus hit the United States.
"The guidelines are kind of ambiguous at this point," he explained.
The National Funeral Directors' Association (NFDA) released guidance in March based on federal recommendations on mass gatherings, which include visitations and funerals.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests no more the 50 people attend funerals until May 10, but the White House is urging gatherings be limited to 10 people through the end of March.
People who are most at risk for severe complications from COVID-19 are encouraged to stay home.
"So, we're kind of stuck between a rock and a hard place as to how we're going to serve our families," Thompson told WUSA9.
"You're always concerned about the family," said Michael Post, owner of Baker-Post Funeral Home. "You're always concerned about your own family."
Post and his wife own a family-run funeral home in Manassas, Va. His company is making decisions about the amount of people who can attend a funeral service on a case-by-case basis.
Post said he is offering more services to help limit social interactions based on health guidelines.
"We put in place the technology in order to live stream and record," he said.
Post described the virtual interactions as an important resource to helping limit the number of people in the chapel during funerals and allowing families to be involved in remembering their loved ones.
Post and Thompson are changing the ways they are interacting with families while still showing compassion and doing their parts to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
"It's a simple as if you come in the door, you would shake their hand. You would give them a hug if you know them," Post explained. "None of that happens now."
"We're asking for their understanding as we try to understand. We know what they're going through," Thompson said.
The NFDA said the Department of Homeland Security has declared workers within the mortuary industry "critical infrastructure."