April 29 2020 – QUEENS, New York: Funeral directors at the Gerard J. Neufeld Funeral Home in Elmhurst are swamped. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the workload for this small, family owned funeral home, operated by Joe Neufeld, has increased significantly, “The phone just went crazy.” 25 bodies were being prepared to be moved to a crematorium in Vermont with a total of 80 bodies going out for cremation this week. Neufeld says that because there are only 2 crematories in Queens they started backing up very quickly, he said he spoke to one today and their next available date was May 23.
The four-man team decided that if they were going to continue operating during the crisis, they would have to end visitation and serve only direct-burial or cremation cases only, this means that some family members who weren’t able to see their loved ones after they entered the hospital, are also unable to identify their bodies before cremation, and they rely only on copies of tags and wristbands placed on the patients when admitted to hospital and at their time of death.
As night fell, Joe and another funeral director, Omar Rodriguez, assisted in moving each of the bodies into the truck parked outside that will be taking them to Vermont Crematorium. Rodriguez says he carries two stretchers in his personal car in order to pick up bodies on his way to work emphasizing that they have no time to waste.
Video by Oliya Scootercaster (FNTV freedomnews.tv) Available for licensing [email protected]