Funeral homes adjusting protocol in response to COVID-19 pandemic

ALBANY, Ga. – As communities weather this pandemic, Dougherty County leadership is stressing the importance of social distancing. And now people are being asked to mourn their loved ones differently.

Public health officials, along with Dougherty County Coroner Michael Fowler, are strongly urging funeral homes to immediately adhere to social distancing protocol for funerals, graveside services, and memorials to help control the spread of COVID-19.

Michael Fowler

Michael Fowler – Dougherty County Coroner

Fowler says, “I know that’s going to create a hardship because a loss; you want your friends and different ones there for support.”

But the risk of contracting the virus or spreading it is just too high to ignore.

“We love to hug we love to shake hands, we love to greet one another down here, so we’re trying to eliminate some of that.”

Fowler says restricting the amount of people that can attend graveside services will help slow the spread of the virus.

“Sometimes people just go from funeral to funeral and sometimes they don’t even know the person but they go from funeral to funeral, so we want to try to eliminate that.”

Nathanial Payne

Nathanial Payne

Funeral home owner and director, Nathanial Payne, says his business is open, thoroughly sanitized and ready to safely provide funeral services in respect to protocol suggestions.

Payne says, “We will have sanitizer when people come in, we are cleaning our cars so we are doing a proactive measure.”

MLK Memorial Chapel will host five funerals this weekend but Payne says he intends to follow protocol to ensure everyones safety.

“I spoke with some families on yesterday and I told them we’re going to have the graveside, they were a little disappointed but we have to follow the rules and regulations.”

Fowler Podium

Fowler speaking at Wednesday’s press conference

Since only family members are being asked to attend funeral services, Fowler suggest memorial services be held at a later date.

The coroner also suggested families arrange for a live screening of services for loved ones to help keep attendance numbers low.