FORT WORTH, Texas - Some North Texas families who are mourning loved ones who died of COVID-19 have additional heartache.
Some churches are turning the families away, so they are now searching for a place to hold funerals.
In recent weeks, the chapel inside Golden Gate Funeral Home in Fort Worth has been booked with four funeral services per day. The company's Dallas location has many as eight services a day.
CEO John Beckwith says a growing number of church pastors are declining to hold funerals in their sanctuaries for victims of COVID-19 out of concern the corpse could still spread the disease.
"Eighty percent of the churches that I've spoken with, and normally have a great relationship with, the pastors are preferring to come to our chapel to have the services. So about 80 percent of the pastors are no longer having funeral services there and are now having them in our chapel,” Beckwith said. "Most definitely, we understand the virus does not die with the deceased person. You come in contact with the deceased person's bodily fluids, they're still contagious."
The CDC website offers information and protocol for safely handling COVID-19 decedents. A section regarding funerals says: "People should consider not touching the body of someone who has died of COVID-19... although 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."
"No question about it: the fear of the unknown,” Beckwith said. “Are we going to be able to clean the church afterward? How long does this virus last on the surface at the church? And making sure those who come behind it don’t catch this deadly disease."
Among the concerns from church pastors, Beckwith says the likelihood that family members of a person who has died from the virus may also be infected.