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Valley funeral homes overwhelmed as COVID-19 cases surge

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Local funeral homes are operating near capacity as they struggle to keep up with a high number of deaths in a short time related to the coronavirus pandemic.

News Channel 3’s Dani Romero has more on how it has become taxing on everyone. 

 “We couldn't have the church service, we couldn't have this, we couldn't have an open casket," said Dimitri Halkidis."We couldn't have so many different things that we wanted to, we obviously couldn’t have more than two people.” 

Dimitri Halkidis describes the challenges his family faced when planning a funeral service during the pandemic. 

“It was honestly nuts throughout the whole period," said Halkidis.  

Halkidis lost his father last March to pancreatic cancer when the pandemic first hit.

Now months later the pandemic is still affecting how we say goodbye. 

Funeral home staff are feeling the strain. 

“The funeral home may be ready for the services to be performed, but there's no time available at the cemetery for two or three weeks," said Maggie McMillan. "So it kind of depends. But it's certainly longer than it was before. “ 

Maggie McMillan, the vice president of operations for Wiefels Cremation and Funeral Services told News Channel 3 they are working non-stop. 

“We are backed up in the way that our staff has running close to 24 hours a day," said McMillan. "It's sort of an all hands on deck situation.” 

Its a grim reality as COVID-19 cases only get worse. 

McMillan said they are anticipating using their back-up plans. 

“We actually have a backup plan to put an additional kind of cooling unit into one of our other facilities," said McMillan. "But I think our goal is to get that up and running by next week in the event that we need to surge into there.”

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Dani Romero

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