CDC recommends streaming funeral services online to avoid crowds over 50 amid COVID-19 pandemic

The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending live-streaming funeral services in order to limit physical attendance in line with social distancing precautions that authorities are urging in order to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus. 

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On March 16, the White House suggested that public gatherings be limited to no more than 10 people for the next 15 days while the CDC has recommended canceling or postponing in-person events that consist of 50 people or more throughout the U.S.

During a Facebook Live event with the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA), the CDC spoke on the role of funeral services during the COVID-19 pandemic, suggesting that funerals may continue with a strict 50-person limit.

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The CDC said that a funeral or visitation service can also be held for a person who has died of COVID-19, but limiting the number of people in direct physical contact with one another is crucial to containing the spread of the disease. 

The risk of spreading the disease does not necessarily come from those who have lost their lives from the virus, as the CDC has said that there is currently “no known risk associated with attending a funeral or visitation service with the body of someone who has died from COVID-19.”

However, it is clear that certain behaviors common during a funeral service, such as kissing or hugging, could significantly contribute to the spread of the virus. 

The CDC advised that people should remain at least 6 feet away from someone who is sick. 

The CDC also said that people should not touch the body of someone who has died of the novel coronavirus. However, COVID-19 is a new disease, and there is still uncertainty regarding how the disease spreads. 

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“There may be less of a chance of the virus spreading from certain types of touching, such as holding the hand or hugging after the body has been prepared for viewing,” wrote the CDC in the agency’s new guidelines.

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According to the CDC, the virus likely spreads through droplets when someone infected coughs or sneezes. People can also contract COVID-19 by touching their mouth, nose, or eyes after touching an object or surface with the virus on it. 

The novel coronavirus has ruptured social and economic fabric across the globe, shutting down major events and businesses with some countries, like Serbia, implementing nationwide curfews, as people self-quarantine and adapt to new norms amid the continually evolving pandemic. 

As of March 17, the virus had infected  more than 190,000 people and killed more than 7,500 globally. The COVID-19 illness causes mild or moderate symptoms in most people, but severe symptoms are more likely in the elderly or those with existing health problems. More than 80,000 people have recovered so far, mostly in China.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.