Funeral homes learn and adapt during pandemic


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HORNELL, NY (WETM) – Being a funeral director during COVID-19 means you are a front line worker putting your health and safety at risk.

In April, Jim Dagon Owner and Funeral Director of Dagon Funeral Home spoke with WETM about what it was like working in his field during such an uncertain time. Dagon works with his daughter, Laura Picco, who is a funeral director as well.

It is believed that the coronavirus can be transmitted even after a person has passed away. Because of this, they are very cautious when handling the bodies. In April, there was a spike in COVID related deaths in Hornell where their funeral home is located.

“At one time in Steuben County, there were 41 corona deaths, and we took care of 10 out of the 41, which is about one out of four,” Dagon recalled.

“It seemed to be a hot spot for a while, so, it was, it was pretty scary at first,” Picco said.

To stay safe, the father-daughter teams frequently change their PPE gear to prevent the spread of the virus and join in on weekly training about COVID to keep up to date of safe practices.

They say that one of the hardest parts of the pandemic was holding funerals where family members could not attend. Dagon says that they had one of the first live-streamed funerals in the area and credits his daughter with getting the technical side set up.

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