Funeral homes returning to average number of preparations following summer death spike

Local News

EDINBURG, Texas — Over the summer, many funeral homes across the valley were so overwhelmed with deaths due to COVID-19 they had to turn some people away.  

Ceballos-Diaz Funeral Home Director Johnny Garcia said they are just starting to see a decrease. 

“I’ve been through other pandemics — swine flu, the aids pandemic — other pandemics we’ve had, but never had the valley been hit this hard with a pandemic like this,” Garcia said. 

Though the first known death in the RGV due to COVID-19 occurred in April, it wasn’t until later that fatalities intensified. 

By July, Ceballos-Diaz Funeral home had to more than triple its funeral preparations. 

“Prior to that, we were averaging maybe 10 funerals a month,” he said. “And once the pandemic hit hard, we were averaging about 35 to 40 calls a month.” 

Garcia said the month of September has been slower, and they are no longer turning away families. He adds the period between death and burial or cremation is also decreasing to about a week apart. 

“That doesn’t mean that we let our guard down,” he said. “We’ve still got to abide social distancing and wear our facial coverings.” 

Though he hopes it won’t be the case, Garcia is expecting another large wave of deaths. But if it comes, they will be more prepared.  

“If I come to the point I might be at full capacity, I might be able to refer to one of my other colleagues in the same industry,” he said. “They may have more capabilities so that we can make sure we take care of all the family on their needs.” 

Among the four RGV counties, the virus has killed more than 2,600 people. 

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