COVID pandemic putting strain on funeral homes

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By , NewsRadio 1080 KRLD

COVID-19 means business is booming, unfortunately, at funeral homes.

Bill Vallie is a regional manager with the Legacy funeral group. He oversees rural west Texas funeral homes in Abilene, Hamlin, Rotan, Odessa, Monahans, Pecos, Fort Stockton, Alpine and Van Horn.

He says "the small rural, West Texas communities are getting hit extremely hard. We're seeing a little over 50 percent death rate from the Covid virus."

Vallie says it's very upsetting to see so many people die from something that could have been prevented. The death certificates come to them saying pneumonia was the cause of death due to the virus.

He says his employees are being very cautious.  Two employees who were in a Covid victim's home in Rotan had to quarantine for ten days because they were in the home for too long a period of time, over an hour.

He says anything over 15 minutes is considered dangerous. His workers were not infected.

"We are overwhelmed and what I'm seeing from my staff is they're making little mistakes because they are tired. They are working 14 hour days. The other day one of my funeral directors put the deceased (a Covid victim) in the wrong casket. It was a mental error. I know this person had not had much sleep in the last three days. We let the family know and they understood. Graciously they accepted our apology. We as funeral directors don't get do-overs. Everything has to be perfect without any error whatsoever."

He says they are referred to as the "last responders."  "We have been ruled as essential personnel by the federal government.  We have also been placed on the immediate list for when the vaccine becomes available because we are dealing with so many cases."

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