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Shawnee County Health Dept. Releases Guidance to Mitigate the Spread of COVID-19 During Funeral Attendance  

The Shawnee County Health Department (SCHD) is seeing an increase in both Shawnee County and surrounding areas of COVID-19 cases directly and indirectly associated with funerals and visitations. As of June 15, 2020, there have been 41 cases including 1 death linked to funerals in Shawnee County; these cases include residents in 5 different counties.

SCHD understands the importance of conducting funeral arrangements and visitations for our loved ones. Therefore, providing our community funeral directors with appropriate and timely guidance is one of our focused priorities, so these services can continue to happen as safely as possible. The guidance provided here from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) is for individuals and families as they work with funeral directors, community and religious leaders, and others to plan and hold funeral services and visitations during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some examples for individuals and families include:

  • Using technology to connect virtually with family and friends during the grieving process.
  • Considering modified funeral arrangements, such as limiting attendance at funerals held shortly after the time of death to a small number of immediate family members and friends; and then holding additional memorial services when social distancing guidelines are less restrictive.
  • Practicing social distancing by maintaining at least 6 feet between attendees, facility staff, and clergy or officiants when small, in-person services are held.
  • Considering modifications to funeral rites and rituals (for example, avoid touching the deceased person’s body or personal belongings or other ceremonial objects) to make sure of everyone’s safety.
  • Wearing cloth face coverings while around others and outside of your home.

“We must stay diligent with conducting our own personal risk assessments when attending events such as funerals and larger family gatherings”, said Linda Ochs, Director of Shawnee County Health Department. “As always please continue to practice social distancing when possible, wear a mask when able to help lessen the spread of the virus and use every day preventative measures.”

As a reminder, human coronaviruses like the one that causes COVID-19 are most commonly spread through coughing and sneezing, personal contact like shaking hands, and touching a surface with the virus and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth. There are simple steps everyone can take to help prevent spreading them:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick and only leave home for essential items.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

Additional Funeral Guidance:

CDC – https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/funeral-guidance.html

National Funeral Directors Association – https://www.nfda.org/covid-19

Kansas State Board of Mortuary Arts – https://ksbma.ks.gov/

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