MONTICELLO — The COVID-19 virus has affected residents of White, Pulaski and Jasper counties in myriad ways.
One of them is putting to rest loved ones — though several area funeral homes have taken steps to alleviate large crowds for visitations, ceremonies and burials.
“We’re trying to limit funerals to immediate family only, as far as I know,” a staff member at Clapper Funeral Home in Brookston said Friday.
Added W. Craig Jackson, funeral director at Jackson Funeral Chapels in Rensselaer, “We’re taking it on a case-by-case basis, and are limiting sizes of congregation gatherings. We’re trying to be respectful of people’s needs, but also abide by social norms that are expected now. It’s a balancing act.”
Jackson added he’s posted more information on the funeral home’s Facebook page. Many of the area funeral homes have gone this route, with a basic form letter listed on the pages of Steinke and Frazier funeral homes, respectively.
“In practice as licensed Indiana funeral directors and funeral homes, the protection of public welfare and health, along with prevention in spread of infectious disease is part of our fundamental duty of care and legal responsibility,” read a portion of the statement on each page.
“With this in mind, and the public welfare and reverent care at the heart of our mission, (Frazier and/or Steinke) Funeral Home is committed to strictly following all prevailing federal, state, and local mandates in suppressing the spread of COVID-19, also known as the coronavirus. While restrictive to public gatherings and events, these mandates are for the greater good of our community and nation.
“Although service options in the immediate future may be severely limited due to these public health-related mandates, we will diligently work with you to find appropriate options and alternatives for your immediate needs within the current restrictions.”
Frain Mortuary in Winamac and Miller-Roscka Funeral Home in Monticello both sent out news releases echoing similar thoughts.
“Miller Roscka remains committed and prepared to safely care for the families it serves during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic,” their statement reads. “According to the CDC, at this time, there is no known risk associated with being in the same room at a funeral or visitation service with the body of someone who died of confirmed or suspected COVID-19; however, federal, state and local public health guidance may impact the size of gathering a family is able to plan.”
“Miller-Roscka is in regular communication with the ISDH, NFDA, the CDC, Department of Health and Human Services, and other agencies about the evolution of COVID-19 in the United States as it relates to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Frain’s release alludes to use of technology to augment the service. It has decided to limit crowd sizes by “utilizing an online platform to schedule times for small groups of friends to come in for visitation.” Signups are done online or by calling the funeral home. Frain will also conduct extended visitation hours to accommodate the smaller groups.
In addition, the mortuary is looking into broadcasting, streaming or recording funeral services.
“If the family and the clergy are in agreement, we will encourage the use of technology to provide online access to anyone not in attendance,” the release said. “We will allow families to utilize technology in whatever means possible to create a meaningful ceremony for their loved one.
“We will adapt to the current environment and employ the creative use of technology ... we have devised this plan to make things work under the current restrictions.”