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How local funeral homes are handling COVID-19 concerns


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AMMON — In the wake of coronavirus concerns, the Centers for Disease Control and Idaho Public Health are recommending no public gatherings with more than 50 people for the next eight weeks.

This recommendation is having an impact on schools, churches and businesses, including funeral homes.

Brian Wood, the owner of Wood Funeral Home in Ammon, tells they are encouraging families to follow those guidelines.

“We have a lot of evening viewings in our community. We are kind of putting those on hold, limiting them to family members only,” Wood says.

RELATED | Idaho health officials advise not gathering with over 50 people for the next 8 weeks

Up to 50 people will be allowed to attend funerals, he says, and a live stream will be made available for others to watch, pending approval from family members.

“We can also video record it and put it on our website. There’s usually a one-day delay,” says Wood.

Concerns about the spread of coronavirus continue to increase after a woman living in Teton County tested positive for COVID-19 over the weekend. It is a mild case that did not require hospitalization, according to health officials.

In the event of a fatal case of coronavirus, Terry Eckersell, a mortician at Eckersell Funeral Home in Rigby, says safety procedures are followed as they prepare bodies to prevent this or any illness from spreading to themselves or others.

“The things that we use (during the preparation of the body) will break down that virus and make the body safe for a viewing visitation or funeral service,” Eckersell says. “If the body is not prepared in those ways, then there’s no possibility of a viewing.”

RELATED | WATCH: Health officials confirm first positive test for COVID-19 in eastern Idaho

Regardless of the current situation, Wood says funeral homes are needed all the time. He hasn’t noticed a particular trend related to the spread of coronavirus.

“Whether or not there’s a virus out there, we’re still going to have people passing away from other things,” he says. “We’re still plowing through funerals and helping people take care of their loved ones.”

Families who are in the middle of planning funerals right now have been very understanding, he says, and he will continue to help families memorialize their loved one any way he can.

“This is an interesting time for all of us so we just need to be accommodating to each other. Even if Idaho seems a little safer than other areas in the country, we need to have these precautions in place to help. This is a worldwide thing that we’re hoping to slow down.”

Wood Funeral Home posted this sign advising people of health guidelines due to concerns about coronavirus | Courtesy Brian Wood