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CDC Eyes Funerals as Possible Hotbed for Virus

Agency tells morticians to consider livestreaming funerals
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 17, 2020 9:40 AM CDT

(Newser) – On the tail of the Center for Disease Control's warning against gatherings of more than 50 people—followed by the White House advisement to keep get-togethers to fewer than 10—the nation's funeral directors have received their own recommendations on how to manage funeral services amid the coronavirus chaos. Vice reports that on Monday, thousands of morticians listened to new guidance from the CDC, and the National Funeral Directors Association has compiled this information, including a suggestion to limit attendance for the next few weeks to immediate family, or even to livestream services with the promise "to hold a larger memorial gathering at a later date."

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Although the CDC warns against kissing, washing, or shrouding the body of a person who has died from COVID-19, in most situations it's not the body itself that poses a risk to funeral-goers—it's the other attendees, per Vice. The concern is not without precedent: According to Spain's National Microbiology Center, 60 of that nation's 430 confirmed coronavirus cases were linked to a single funeral in a northern Spanish city, reports the Guardian. In Italy, where more than 2,100 people have died from the virus, traditional funeral services have already been banned, the New York Times notes. The UK may soon follow suit, with a meeting planned Tuesday among funeral directors and government officials, Sky News reports. Despite the risks, the funeral industry must and will go on. "This is the nature of the job we do," an Arizona funeral director tells Vice. (Read more coronavirus stories.)

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