SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – As COVID-19 continues to claim lives, local funeral homes are seeing a significant impact on business.
During the month of September, there were 19 days when more than 100 Georgians died from the virus, according to the state health department. On Thursday, four Chatham County residents died, adding to the total of 568 since the start of the pandemic.
At Adams Funeral Services in Savannah, half of all services are for COVID-related deaths, according to staff. Amari Adams, funeral director and embalmer, said the pandemic has changed everything about their business — from how services are run to the availability of caskets.
“It’s been an emotional rollercoaster for everyone involved,” Adams said.
The funeral home is currently allowing 75 guests inside the chapel for services, which is more than half of full capacity. Masks, social distancing and time limits are also being enforced for services.
Adams said the most difficult part of working under COVID restrictions is telling loved ones they can’t attend a service.
“Grief is more exacerbated because you can’t be consoled in the way that you want and need to be and keep your social distance,” Adams said.
While revenue from funerals has increased, so has the cost of putting them on. The funeral home is also running into supply chain issues.
“Caskets have been harder to obtain,” Adams said. “Casket manufacturers are running out of caskets. You can only buy or acquire a certain amount at any given time. One casket manufacturer only allows five caskets to be delivered a day.”
To Adams, it’s disheartening to see the number of community members dying from the virus — the majority of them unvaccinated. Adams also said the funeral home is seeing more young people lose their lives.
But it also makes him concerned for his own health, as the National Funeral Directors and Morticians Association reports 130 Black directors have died from COVID-19.
“We’re a frontline worker,” Adams said. “When the person transitions, wherever they may be, at home, in the hospital, we’re going into these places. We’re in those spaces. We are dealing with the families that have been directly affected and may have been directly or indirectly exposed and they may or may not know it.”
While not required, Adams said most employees of the funeral home are vaccinated.