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Miss-Lou funeral homes adjust to COVID-19

NATCHEZ — Funeral homes in the Miss-Lou are offering other ways besides traditional funeral services for families to honor their loved ones during the COVID-19 pandemic.

R.H. “Dicky” Laird, funeral-director manger of Laird Funeral Home in Natchez, has worked in the funeral business for 47 years and said dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic is similar to issues funeral businesses have been through in the past with other infectious and contagious diseases.

“We will make it through this, and it has been a very different experience from the other diseases that we have had to encounter in our business,” Laird said. “To me the largest thing is that there’s not a vaccine for it, and I know the doctors are working diligently to get that into play.”

Laird Funeral Home and other funeral homes in the Miss-Lou have adjusted to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic by offering graveside services for families who have lost loved ones during the pandemic.

“It has actually been received well with the families,” said Casey Young, owner of Young’s Funeral Home. “The families don’t want to be exposed to anything … and everybody understands this is our community that’s involved.”

During the coronavirus pandemic, funeral home representatives said they also have taken extra precautions to prevent the virus from spreading to other people.

“We place surgeon-type masks over the deceased once we transfer them from the hospital bed to our cot to our facility,” Young said. “We’re limiting those areas and disinfecting with a little bit more precaution than we normally would.”

At Laird Funeral Home, Laird said they have adhered to the universal precautions the funeral business follows.

“There are certain types of protective wear like gloves, special masks, face shields, and we have a ventilation system,” Laird said. “The ventilation system completely takes out the air in the operating room two to three times a minute. It takes the bad air out, whether it be chemical or whatever it happens to be.”

With funeral homes being limited in face-to-face contact, some have found other ways to stay in contact with families who have lost a loved one.

“It’s interesting times especially for our business,” Young said. “In the funeral industry, since everyone has a personal relationship we develop with the families, we’re doing a lot of teleconferencing to make arrangements online, filling out forms and selecting merchandise. It’s just really weird.

“The human touch is paramount in the funeral industry. That’s what we’re all about with making those connections and securing that, whether it’s a pat on the back, hug or a kiss on the cheek. To limit human touch, it’s very interesting and strange. But we have to protect the family, the staff and the public at large.”