Coronavirus forces SoCal funeral homes to cancel services; many loved ones not able to say goodbye

LAWNDALE, Calif. (KABC) -- Social distancing rules are particularly challenging for those mourning the death of loved ones. The coronavirus pandemic is changing every aspect of life -- and even death.

New rules have been imposed on mortuaries and cemeteries across SoCal when it comes to conducting funeral services, further complicating an already difficult time for families.

Mark McKay owns four funeral homes in Southern California. He's been forced to cancel dozens of funeral services because social distancing guidelines require gatherings to include no more than five people.

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Jeff Ghazarian, 34, of Glendora is one of the five people in Los Angeles County who has lost their life to COVID-19.


Now, some grieving families are missing out on their chance to say their final goodbyes.

"There's been a lot of stress and anxiety created. These families are very distraught. They're in denial," McKay said. "They don't want to understand the severity of this."

The funeral services at McKay's Mortuaries have been shortened to two-hour visitations. Only five people are allowed in at one time to view loved ones.

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Amid the coronavirus emergency, people are being urged to limit the time they spend in public. But there are essential items that consumers may have to leave their house for.


Employees routinely clean the buildings, wear double gloves, masks and practice social distancing.

"We had to kind of like reinvent the wheel and re-position our business in order to help these families and meet their needs and give them multiple options," McKay said.

McKay said they have been advised to immediately bury or cremate any person who succumbs to the virus.

The health and safety measures are meant to protect staff and the community as a whole.

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Patients with COVID-19 experience mild to severe respiratory illnesses.

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