New York Attorney General Letitia James issued the following statement asking New Yorkers to comply with new guidelines – published by the New York State Department of Health – for funeral firms and families planning funerals while New Yorkers continue to battle the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-2019):
“Our country is facing a unique state of crisis with the spread of the coronavirus. While we all may want to celebrate our loved ones’ lives and memorialize them, at this time, we must continue to practice social distancing and limit large public gatherings, including at funeral services,” she said. “Our No. 1 goal should be to limit the spread of this disease and stop more New Yorkers from getting sick. The Department of Health’s recommendations are common-sense measures that will help keep New Yorkers safe.”
Highlights from the New York State Department of Health guidelines include:
•All large gatherings should be avoided if possible. Otherwise, gatherings must be limited to no more than 50% of the maximum capacity of the funeral home or 50 individuals, whichever is lower.
•Though there is currently no known risk associated with being in the same room with the body of someone who died from COVID-19, people should consider not touching the body. Additionally, individuals who were in close contact with the decedent prior to their passing may themselves be infected with the virus and should not attend funeral services as they may infect others.
•Funeral home workers should follow their routine infection prevention and control precautions when handling a decedent who died of COVID-19. For transporting a body that has been bagged, workers should disinfect the outside of the bag with an EPA-approved product expected to be effective against COVID-19.
The state’s guidelines closely match guidelines provided by the federal government’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).