COVID-19 causes funeral homes to change procedures to fit state law

Whitney Pegues of W.E. Pegues Funeral Directors, joined by area funeral home representatives, reads a statement last week regarding the conducting of funerals during the current COVID-19 crisis.

Area funerals will have a decidedly different look and feel in Lee County. At least until the COVID-19 virus threat subsides, the death ceremonies will be highly restricted. Last Friday, funeral home directors gathered for a press conference at the Lee County Courthouse. Whitney Pegues of W.E. Pegues Funeral Directors read a press release that outlined the new procedures and why they are being implemented. In order to adhere to Governor Tate Reeves’ new Stay-in-Place Order, which went into effect Friday at 5 p.m., and for the safety of funeral home employees and visitors to the funerals, limits are being placed on funeral attendance. No more than 10 people will be allowed to gather at one time during visitations and attendees must adhere to the “social distancing” guideline of maintaining a 6-foot space between each other. That spacing will also be followed in funeral services and graveside ceremonies. “As you call on us during this pandemic when you lose a loved one, we will do everything in our power to meet your needs when you lose a loved one, we will do everything in our power to meet your needs with dignity and respect, as we always have,” Pegues said. “We realize that grief cannot be quarantined but we must do our part to stop the spread of this horrible and deadly virus.” Steve Holland of Holland Funeral Directors said most of the funerals he’s held since the guidelines were announced have gone smoothly with attendees adhering to social distancing and number of participants. He is a member of the National Funeral Directors Association, which has published its own guidelines for members and follows Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations. One suggestion is, “Have a private viewing for only immediate family and/or close friends and have a large memorial service for all family and friends at a later date.” The NFDA website also recommends live streaming services on the Internet, a practice Holland said he utilizes to great success. He reported “hundreds of people” tuning in to several recent services. The stay-at-home order is in place until April 30 but could be extended depending on what happens with the coronavirus. Besides Pegues and Holland, the following funeral directors were present for last week’s press conference:

• Jacque Grayson, Grayson-Porter’s Mortuary

• Nat Jones, N.L. Jones Funeral Directors

• Sammy Reed, Lee Memorial Funeral Home

• Ronnie Kesler, Kesler Funeral Home

• Johnny Agnew, Agnew and Sons Funeral Home

C. Richard Cotton

Freelance writer/photographer/editor/author

243 County Road 783

Saltillo MS 38866



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