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Funeral Homes Take Precautions Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

Carla Eckels
Jackson Mortuary in Wichita

Sedgwick County issued a stay-at-home order on Tuesday to help slow the spread of coronavirus. Funeral services are exempted, but funeral homes — including Wichita's Jackson Mortuary — are taking precautions.

Michael Jackson, owner and funeral director of the 94-year-old family business, says his staff is taking extra sanitation measures with the funeral home, the chapel and the mortuary vehicles.

"We have a sanitizing table that people come to before they go into the services," Jackson said.

The mortuary is also trying to deal with the length of funerals, as well as providing accommodations for large extended families.

"We have families that are greater than 50, two or three times, so who is going to make the decision on who comes and who doesn't?" Jackson said.

Rod Houston, a pastor of Mt. Olive Tabernacle of Praise, said there was a sizable gathering at his father's funeral on Saturday. Attendees practiced social distancing in the pews of his 500-seat church.

Normally the viewing would be at the front of the church, but Houston requested that Jackson Mortuary provide the viewing time in the vestibule. People were able to pay their respects on their way out, which he said worked very well.

Even with the fears surrounding coronavirus, Jackson says people still want to have traditional funeral services.

"I have yet to see a family say they want to cancel the service because of the virus," he says.

The streaming of services is also an available option.

Carla Eckels is director of cultural diversity and the host of Soulsations. Follow her on Twitter @Eckels. To contact KMUW News or to send in a news tip, reach us at news@kmuw.org.

Carla Eckels is Director of Cultural Diversity for News and Engagement at KMUW. She produces and hosts the R&B and gospel show Soulsations and brings stories of race and culture to The Range with the monthly segment In the Mix. Carla was inducted into The Kansas African American Museum's Trailblazers Hall of Fame in 2020 for her work in broadcast/journalism.