COVID-19 Resources for Funeral Directors
COVID-19 Resources for
Colorado Funeral Directors
The Colorado Funeral Directors Association is the leading source
of information, education and resources for the funeral service
profession in the State of Colorado.
January 4, 2020
COVID-19 Vaccinations | Phase 1B Has Begun
Funeral Home workers are approved in Phase 1B for Colorado's COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan. Each county's public health agency will coordinate vaccine delivery to approved populations.
Click here for a list of all public health agencies: https://cdphe.colorado.gov/public-information/find-your-local-public-health-agency
Denver County: The City and County of Denver is working on finalizing partnerships with local pharmacies to support administration of vaccines to individuals eligible in phases 1A, 1B and 2. Information will be shared through existing provider contact lists, as well as posted here when it becomes available. https://www.denvergov.org/Government/COVID-19-Information/Vaccination
El Paso County: The vaccine is available at this time only for front-line healthcare workers described in phase 1A. https://www.elpasocountyhealth.org/covid-19-vaccine-development-and-planning
Tri County Health Department (Adams, Arapahoe, Douglas): Will begin providing vaccines to phase 1B pre-approved healthcare workers the week of January 4, 2021 through a closed scheduling system where TCHD reaches out to them to sign up. At this time, TCHD does not have enough vaccine to reach out to those who have not yet been pre-approved. If you are a healthcare provider interested in becoming pre-approved, please email email@example.com. https://www.tchd.org/866/COVID-19-Vaccines
Jefferson County: Phase 1B: Moderate-risk health care workers and responders. Health care workers who do not have prolonged direct contact with COVID-19 patients, but still work in direct patient care or as direct patient care support staff. This phase also includes EMS, firefighters, police, correctional workers, dispatchers, funeral services, other first responders, and COVID-19 response personnel. https://www.jeffco.us/Faq.aspx?QID=862
Larimer County: There is not yet enough doses available to vaccinate everyone in Phase 1B. If you are an agency or facility included in Phase 1B located in Weld or Larimer County, please complete COVID-19 vaccine information survey. Completing this survey does not mean that you will be vaccinated right away, but will ensure that we have information about your business, facility, agency, or clinic that we and our partners can use to coordinate the distribution of vaccine doses as they become available. https://www.larimer.org/health/communicable-disease/coronavirus-covid-19/covid-19-vaccine
Costs: The vaccine will be free, but some providers/pharmacies may ask for insurance so that they can bill for the vaccine administration fee. Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance will cover the cost of the COVID-19 vaccines. In addition, uninsured Coloradans will have access to free vaccines.
Take Action – Make Funeral Directors a Priority for COVID-19 Vaccine
On Tuesday, September 1, the National Academies of Science Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) released its draft framework on equitable allocation of COVID-19 vaccine. The study was requested by the CDC and the National Institutes of Health with the expectation that such a framework would inform the decisions by health authorities, including the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), as they create and implement national and/or local guidelines for COVID-19 vaccine allocation.
You face risks of exposure to the coronavirus as you continue to serve families. We want funeral directors to receive priority access to the COVID-19 vaccine and be included in the definition of healthcare workers in the final guidance on vaccine prioritization.
Take Action! Your voice can help demonstrate the importance of funeral directors being prioritized.
We ask all NFDA members to tell the NASEM that funeral directors should have priority access to the COVID-19 vaccine. You must make your voice heard before the public comment period closes at 11:59 p.m. ET this Friday, September 4!
Making your voice heard is easy!
Step 1: Click the following link to access the public comment form: https://www.nap.edu/vaccine/
Step 2: Fill out your name, email address, affiliation type (select “Individual" from the drop-down menu) and issues addressed in comment (“Priority Populations” would be the most appropriate option).
Step 3: Copy, paste and customize with your State's information the sample letter below into the “Your Comments” section.
Step 4: Click “Submit.”
Sample State Association Comments
Subject: Take Action – Make Funeral Directors a Priority for COVID-19 Vaccine
Due to the high risk of exposure to the COVID-19 virus, we urge you to include deathcare workers in the top-tier of essential services to receive a vaccine when it becomes available. Doing so protects the health, not only of deathcare professionals, but the entire community in which they work.
Deathcare professionals are at high-risk for exposure to COVID-19 as they enter hospitals, nursing homes, and residences to take the body of a decedent into their care; as they meet with surviving family members who may have been exposed to the coronavirus; and as they prepare the bodies of pandemic victims for burial or cremation.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, deathcare professionals have provided critical services by caring for the dead and their grieving families, but they cannot continue to do so safely without priority access to an approved vaccine.
Because of these multiple risks of exposure and the vital role deathcare workers are playing during this public health crisis, the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) issued guidance on March 19 classifying mortuary workers as “critical infrastructure workers.” In recognition of their service on the front line of the pandemic, deathcare workers were put into the “Healthcare and Public Health” category alongside other frontline caregivers like doctors and nurses.
Prioritizing deathcare workers is not without precedent. In 2008, when facing the H1N1 pandemic, the CDC elevated “Mortuary Service Providers” to the Tier II level for vaccine prioritization. There were six tiers to the system, with the most critical workers and personnel in Tiers I, II, and III.
On behalf of the more than X,XXX funeral homes and XX,XXX funeral professionals in the state of XXX, we are grateful for your leadership and stand ready, as always, to care for the dead and the families left behind.
By taking just a few moments today, you can take a step toward protecting your health and that of your colleagues!
If you have any questions about the comment process or about the issue, please contact Lesley Witter, senior vice president, Advocacy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Below is the NFDA Belletin that is being sent to all NFDA members.
Thank you for taking action today for the health of all in funeral service.
Colorado COVID-19 Overview
Colorado Governor Jared Polis announced that Safer at Home orders have been extended to July 1.
Seventh Amended Public Health Order issued by Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment on June 18:
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment posted the Seventh Amended Public Health Order 20-28 Safer at Home on June 18, 2020.
Althought this PHO grants permissions to resume indoor and outdoor events such as receptions, events, non-critical auctions, theaters, trade shows, markets, indoor malls, rodeos, fairs, festivals and parades, it does NOT grant permission to resume receptions held in conjunction with funerals or weddings.
Found on Page 7 of the 47-page order, Section K states:
- Life rites, such as wedding ceremonies, graduation ceremonies and funerals, and other religious rites are authorized at 50% capacity not to exceed 50 people indoors, with strict compliance with Social Distancing Requirements for employees and any attendees of services.
- Effective June 18, 2020, extra large venues hosting life rites may operate up to 100 people indoors within their usable space calculated using the Social Distancing Space Calculator.
- For outdoor rites, individuals must maintain 6 feet distance between non-household members and work with the appropriate local authority to obtain approval for the maximum number of individuals who may attend in the designated outdoor space.
- Only the ceremony or rite itself is included in this authorization; receptions or parties associated with life rites are NOT included in this authorization.
Life rites should follow the guidance for houses of worship found here. That guidance specifies that social receptions or parties associated with funeral homes or venues for wedding ceremonies still must follow mass gathering limitations.
CFDA Letter to Governor Polis
Colorado funeral homes, crematories and cemeteries have been dutiful in complying with public health orders to protect the health and safety of consumers. Now that the Safer at Home mandates are expiring and many businesses are re-opening, consumers are demanding to resume funeral rituals and memorial services while funeral establishments lack sufficient guidelines and operational standards to do so.
The Colorado Funeral Directors Association (CFDA) has collected recommendations from its members and proposes the following:
• Continue to maintain 6-ft social distance between people who don’t shelter together for all gatherings.
• No-touch interactions and wearing face coverings at gatherings.
• Capacity limits up to 50% within a facility (depending upon the overall size of the facility) that will ensure sufficient distancing.
• Gatherings that allow 100+ people in outdoor settings like a cemetery.
We also want to recognize and acknowledge the efforts of Colorado's deathcare workers. These #LastResponders have been the silent partners alongside healthcare workers and first responders in continuing to serve their communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Funeral home and crematory workers have been working around the clock and putting themselves at great risk to care for the deceased and their families with dignity and respect.
We respectfully ask that you consider our request and let me know if we can provide any support or assistance. Thank you to you and your staff for doing your best to keep Coloradans safe.
Earlier this week the first draft of guidelines for restaurants was posted for public review and comment: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1MS_jLBNUi28Sr3tcHTXJuHY_3MPdPvU5/view
Funeral establishments, crematories and cemeteries can expect continued measures to maintain social distancing, sanitization and minimizing contacts points; gatherings may be allowed to increase incrementally.
More information will be posted here when available.
Best Practices for Funeral Homes, Crematories and Cemeteries
Allow employees to telecommute when possible.
Setup flexible shift plans to minimize the number of employees in the office.
Conduct meetings by telephone or online when possible.
There is currently no known risk associated with being in the same room at a funeral or visitation service with the body of someone who died of COVID-19. All mortuary workers and other deathcare workers who have contact with human remains known or suspected to be contaminated with COVID-19 must wear appropriate PPE.
If your funeral establishment has a critical need for PPE supplies, contact your County Emergency Manager. Click here for a list of Colorado emergency managers.
Limit interactions with the body.
Clean and disinfect items from the deceased before returning to the family.
Limit gatherings to immediate family.
Encourage people who are ill or who are part of an at-risk population (e.g., the elderly, immune-compromised, etc.) to stay home.
Stagger appointments and events to limit number of people within the establishment.
- Wear a face mask to protect yourself and others.
Practice social distancing: Maintain a distance of at least 6-ft between you and other people. Restrict or arrange seating to maximize space between people.
Routinely clean high-touch surfaces such as door handles. Use soap and water or detergent to clean visible dirt. Use EPA-registered disinfectants.
Encourage cough etiquette and hand hygiene for employees and guests.
Minimize direct contact with staff, families and guests (e.g., handshakes, hugs, etc.)
Position a staff member to open a door during visitations and services to prevent people from touching the door handles.
Arrange a drive-by funeral procession so guests can pay respects from a safe distance;
Look into live streaming services over your funeral home's website, Facebook or YouTube. (Be sure to get written authorization to record and stream. Be aware of copyright laws for streaming content through Facebook, YouTube etc.)
Collaborate with photo and video professionals to produce recorded tributes that families can watch later;
Arrange virtual counseling and support groups for grieving families and guests;
Provide virtual options for guests to share messages and support during this difficult time.