The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is encouraging live-streaming funerals as an alternative to in-person gatherings, as the pandemic sends cities and states into lockdown.
The Trump administration has urged people to avoid groups of 10 or more to reduce the spread of the coronavirus -- and the CDC offered guidance to the National Funeral Directors Association about alternatives.
“For example, if live-streaming and limiting in-person attendance to immediate family is possible, we encourage that. Additionally, promoting social distancing at the event, regardless of size, and promoting hand hygiene as well is also important,” David Berendes, an environmental epidemiologist with the CDC, said during the briefing.
“Social distancing, hand hygiene and other common sense measures would apply to those events and you may consider limiting the number of high risks individuals who are attending the event to those who are absolutely necessary,” he said.
How to deal with the threat of infected bodies: In late February, the CDC issued guidance for funeral directors, medical examiners and pathologists on how to handle the bodies of people who have died from the coronavirus.
Funeral home workers should follow routine infection and control precautions when handling the bodies, the agency said.
There are no known risks of being in the same room as a patient who has died -- but it's such a new disease that health experts are still learning how it spreads.
“If washing the body or shrouding are important religious or cultural practices, families are encouraged to work with their community cultural and religious leaders and funeral home staff on how to reduce their exposure as much as possible," said Dr. Sarah Reagan-Steiner, a medical officer with the infectious disease pathology branch at the CDC.