Local mortuaries have complied with a request from the Cherokee Marshal’s Office to change the manner in which they conduct services in order to reduce the risk of novel coronavirus spread.
Funeral homes have been asked and agreed to not have more than 10 people at a time in a room for either visitations or services.
Chief Marshal Ron Hunton made the request based on evidence that eight cases of coronavirus infection in southwest Georgia’s Dougherty County was spread from two funeral services held there.
Hunton’s request of funeral homes is based on the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and President Trump to limit public gatherings to 10 or fewer people.
“All funeral service providers in Cherokee County have agreed to comply with the Marshal’s request effective immediately,” Marshal’s Office spokesman Jay Baker said. “We recognize the sacrifice this will require of families in mourning as well as the funeral service providers but we feel it is necessary for the well-being of all parties and the community.”
The request is that the suspension of traditional funeral services with sometimes dozens of people in attendance continue until the CDC revises its recommendations on gatherings, Baker said.
Hunton said, “I commend these funeral homes for their leadership in taking these steps voluntarily and for their continued valued service to Cherokee County and its residents.”
Earl Darby with Darby Funeral Home in Canton said that, although it is unfortunate that the ongoing situation changes the traditional customs his clients are familiar with, the need to protect the public’s health outweighs these customs.
“Our job is to protect the public we serve,” he said.
Darby further explained that visitation would be limited to 10 people, as would graveside services. When graveside services are scheduled, Darby said funeral home officials would meet the family at the graveside, while also asking them to practice social distancing.
Similarly, Brian Poole, the owner of Poole Funeral Home in Woodstock, said his staff is cleaning its facility twice a day while still doing the best they can to serve the community.
“We’re definitely going to comply,” Poole said. “It is definitely the right thing to do.”