BOONE COUNTY — Two Boone County-based funeral homes are approaching the COVID-19 outbreak with different perspectives regarding how they serve their families and conduct their business.
Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended canceling or postponing all in-person events that consist of 50 people or more.
Additionally, the CDC urged all funeral homes across the country to continue holding funeral services with a strict 50-person limit, adding that a funeral or visitation service can also be held for a person who has died of COVID-19 because there are no known risks of catching the virus from a dead body.
At Handley Funeral Home of Danville, J.T. Handley wears many hats for the family business. His responsibilities include licensed mortician, coordinator, maintenance supervisor. He also manages sister-company Danville Monument Co.
“We’re using universal precautions as we always do,” Handley said. “We’ll have plenty of hand sanitizer on-hand and we encourage people to not feel obligated to shake hands or embrace as they normally would. We’ve reached out to our friends in the business and paid close attention to what others are doing as well, because we can all share our good ideas within the industry.”
Handley said that he attended a service in another county and observed that ink pens at the sign-in area were being cycled into a bin after use where they would eventually be sanitized for reuse again.
“It is little things like that in my opinion that can make a big difference for all of us and I really thought that was thinking outside the box,” Handley added. “We are encouraging attendees of our services to pay their respects and not be afraid to attend a service, but use precautions and wash their hands and sanitize and be mindful of others who also will be attending. I feel it is important at this time to be timely in our communications and social interactions.”
Across the county in Whitesville, Cletus Kellione. owner of Armstrong Funeral Home, said he feels secure in how the business currently operates in relation to sanitizing and additionally isn’t comfortable making suggestions to families who are grieving.
“As far as universal precautions, we’ve been doing that for 20 years and I live upstairs with my wife and children and here in this small town, since this has taken place, we haven’t had a death occur,” said Killione. “My entire career has been spent in nursing homes, hospitals and medical examiner offices and in the embalming room we’ve gone to disposable sheets, pillow cases and protective wear like aprons for some time now. We will do all we can to continue to accommodate our families and we feel confident that America will get through this.”