Southern California Funeral Homes Filled to the Brim After COVID-19 Outbreak


Brett Sayles

California hospitals are overwhelmed by the amount of deaths caused by COVID-19.

Ruby Carrero-Pomales, Reporter

With the larger influx of bodies from COVID-19, and cases rising, morticians fear they won’t be able to handle the worst of what’s to come. After a resurgence of COVID-19 cases, funeral homes struggle to keep up with the intake of bodies, leading to a never before seen rejection of mourning families in California.

Mortuaries are being overwhelmed and flooded with almost 350,000 COVID-19 deaths and over 20 million people infected nationwide, according to John Hopkins University.

Magda Maldonado, owner of Continental Funeral Home in Los Angeles, states that, “I’ve been in the funeral industry for 40 years and never in my life did I think that this could happen, that I’d have to tell a family, ‘No, we can’t take your family member.” The Continental has had an influx of 6 times the average rate, around 30 body removals daily. Other mortuaries have been dealing with the same issues.

While the dead may sleep, morticians can’t. The amount of extra bodies has lead to renting extra 50-foot refrigerators for two of the four facilities Maldonado runs in LA and various other counties. In fact, mortuaries have had to delay pick-ups for hospitals because of the lack of space. According to Bob Achermann, executive director of the California Funeral Directors Association, the entire embalming process has slowed down as well, going from 1-2 days to a week before bodies are cremated and death certificates and are given.

Acherman also stated that in Southern California, “every funeral home I talk to says, ‘We’re paddling as fast as we can.'” He went on to later say that, “The volume is just incredible and they fear that they won’t be able to keep up.  And the worst of the surge could still be ahead of us.” With COVID-19 deaths rising to over 10,000 casualties in California hotspots, things are likely to become worse for Funeral homes, delaying them even further.