Funeral homes adjust during crisis

  • Yonah Memorial Gardens is overlooked by Whitfield Funeral Home. Whitfield is one of the many local funeral homes taking precautions to ensure safe services for families.
    Yonah Memorial Gardens is overlooked by Whitfield Funeral Home. Whitfield is one of the many local funeral homes taking precautions to ensure safe services for families.
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   Funeral homes are another one of the many businesses currently having to make adjustments to the continued spread of COVID-19.

   The Northeast Georgian spoke to three different funeral homes in Habersham County: McGahee-Griffin and Stewart, Whitfield and Hillside Memorial Chapel and Gardens. They discussed the precautions they are taking day by day to ensure they are following state and federal regulations and recommendations.

   A new executive order by Governor Brian Kemp has, among other things, ordered individuals with an “increased risk” to stay at home and prevent the gathering of 10 people unless a distance of six feet can be maintained.

   “We cannot provide full public services,” said Everett Huffman, General Manager for Whitfield Funeral Home.  Monday, he said they are not allowing large groups inside.

   Representatives of funeral homes mentioned they are focusing on more private family services. Certain areas of the chapel have been closed off for Whitfield and McGahee-Griffin, who has closed their lounge, is encouraging graveside services, or services at a later day said Director Allen Addis.

   “It’s uncharted territory for all of us, we still want to play our part in the community and operate in a dignified manner,” said Brent Tolbert. 

   Tolbert said they feel that 30 people in a private service spread out in the Chapel is still possible to maintain the ordered social distancing.

   Hygiene continues to be a top priority outlined by these representatives. The funeral homes are following procedures to disinfect their facilities as families come in and out.

   Recording services continue to be offered for these homes as well. Streaming the services has also been discussed and offered at some of these homes.

   “Most families are receptive to what we are asking,” said Robbie Cook, owner of McGahee-Griffin and Stewart Funeral Home. “They are very willing to cooperate. Because this is for their safety as well. We have not run into any challenges, everybody has been very cooperative and understanding.”