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L.A. funeral homes are short on pine for coffins and one has rented a 52-foot refrigerated truck

Funeral homes in Los Angeles have become so crowded with COVID-19 victims that they are struggling to find storage space, with one even renting out a 52-foot refrigerated truck to cope with the influx of bodies.  

Magda Maldonado had the large trailer delivered to the Continental Funeral Homes in East Los Angeles Saturday. It was parked next to a 20ft trailer that Maldonado had rented in the summer, but it is no longer big enough to accomodate the number of bodies coming in each day.   

‘No funeral home around here has a container large enough to accommodate the number of people who are dying from COVID,’ she said to the Daily Beast.

Maldonado has had two employees lose a parent to COVID-19, with another staff person’s daughter testing positive for the virus over the holiday weekend. That employee was ordered to stay at home. 

Magda Maldonado had the 52ft trailer delivered to the Continental Funeral Homes in East Los Angeles Saturday (pictured in August)

It was parked next to a 20ft trailer that Maldonado had rented in the summer, but no longer provided enough space for the number of bodies coming in each day

It was parked next to a 20ft trailer that Maldonado had rented in the summer, but no longer provided enough space for the number of bodies coming in each day

Continental Funeral Homes is struggling to meet the increased demands of customers.  

‘We’re in a crisis and the situation is getting desperate,’ Maldonado said. ‘Funeral homes do not have space to receive more bodies. Everyone is working seven days a week plus overtime. We’re exhausted.’ 

But the problem for local funeral homes has grown beyond simply having too many bodies and not enough space.

‘Wood is getting scarce, especially pine, which is the most inexpensive,’ Auriel ‘Guero’ Suarez, owner of the Universal Caskets Manufacturing Corporation in East Los Angeles, said. ‘In 52 years in the business, I’ve never seen anything like this.’ 

'Wood is getting scarce, especially pine, which is the most inexpensive,' Auriel 'Guero' Suarez, owner of the Universal Caskets Manufacturing Corporation in East Los Angeles, said. 'In 52 years in the business, I've never seen anything like this'

‘Wood is getting scarce, especially pine, which is the most inexpensive,’ Auriel ‘Guero’ Suarez, owner of the Universal Caskets Manufacturing Corporation in East Los Angeles, said. ‘In 52 years in the business, I’ve never seen anything like this’

Families in Los Angeles County are struggling trying to find a final resting place as cases of coronavirus continue to surge.   

‘It’s awful what these families have to live through,’ Suarez added. ‘The caskets are practically flying out the door as soon as they’re built. Sometimes, the coffins don’t arrive on time for the funeral.’

California has had to extend its stay-at-home order as the state continues to struggle and sees a surge in hospitalization and zero intensive care unit capacity.  

‘We were setting records two weeks ago, and now we’re just continuing up the curve,’ Timothy Brewer, an infectious disease expert at UCLA, said. ‘We have a New Year holiday coming up, and if it’s like the Christmas holidays, you can expect the curve to continue to rise or even get a bump ten or 14 days later.’ 

California has become the epicenter of the pandemic over the past few weeks with more than 24,000 virus-related deaths. 

On Tuesday 31,245 new COVID-19 infections were reported, bringing the total tally to 2.18million. 

California has become the epicenter of the pandemic over the past few weeks with more than 24,000 virus-related deaths. Hospital in the state are running out of ICU beds

California has become the epicenter of the pandemic over the past few weeks with more than 24,000 virus-related deaths. Hospital in the state are running out of ICU beds

Los Angeles has seen nearly 100,000 new cases in the last week alone

Los Angeles has seen nearly 100,000 new cases in the last week alone

Los Angeles has seen nearly 100,000 new cases in the last week alone, according to the data from Johns Hopkins University. Last week, the death tolls hit record highs on consecutive days. 

‘A person now dies every 10 minutes in L.A. County from COVID-19,’ L.A. County Director of Public Health Barbara Ferrer said of the rate of deaths in the area. 

During the summer, funeral homes in Los Angeles used storage capacity to handle the rise in deaths from the disease.  

‘Now that added capacity is being maxed out,’ said Bob Achermann, executive director of the California Funeral Directors Association. ‘It’s almost a triage situation, where funeral homes are figuring out what space they have.’

Funeral homes in Los Angeles County are expecting to see the surge in coronavirus cases at least until February

Funeral homes in Los Angeles County are expecting to see the surge in coronavirus cases at least until February

Funeral homes in Los Angeles County are expecting to see the surge in coronavirus cases at least until February, Acherman added.

Employees at funeral homes are in the first-tier priority group for vaccines but the limited doses are expected to go primarily to medical workers. 

‘We’ve been told it’s likely that funeral home staff could have to wait to receive vaccinations until January or February,’ Achermann said.  

California extended strict stay-at-home orders indefinitely in Southern California and San Joaquin Valley on Tuesday.

California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly announced the extended stay-at-home orders on Tuesday and said the lockdown will be lifted when the regions show ‘ICU projections above or equal to 15 percent.’

The current surge of cases is due in large part to Thanksgiving travel and celebrations despite warnings from public health officials not to gather as the state was already in the midst of an exponential growth in cases. 

Travel over Christmas is anticipated to create another spike in cases that may not show up in the state’s COVID-19 data for several weeks.

‘As we move into this new phase, where we brace, where we prepare ourselves for what is inevitable now … based on the travel we have just seen in the last week and the expectation of more of the same through the rest of the holiday season of a surge on top of a surge, arguably, on top of, again, another surge,’ Newsom said Monday.  

The Golden State’s hospitals are inundated with patients and intensive care units in Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley have no capacity remaining, according to state figures. 

Coronavirus patients by county in California

Coronavirus patients by county in California


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