Basler Adjusts With Business, Coroner Duties Due To COVID-19

With mass gatherings banned around the country, funeral homes have faced the difficult challenge of serving mourning families without endangering visitors or staff.
“On the funeral side, when it all started happening, [banning] the mass gatherings, where you just can’t have more than 10 family members, that was hard because families in this town are big,” said Eric Basler, the owner of Basler Funeral Home and also Ste. Genevieve County’s elected coroner.
The COVID-19 pandemic has hit the funeral industry hard, affecting both those dealing with the deceased and the grieving families.
“It’s hard for only 10 people to come,” Basler said. “Sometimes it might creep up over 10 for a funeral, but they’re all family anyway, whether it’s in my building or in their house together.”
During the shutdown, most funerals have essentially been by invitation only.
“Up until this week, everything has really been kind of a private service,” Basler said. “They have just kind of told the people that they want here. This week it’s opened up a little bit more. We really try to limit it to about 50 and we space out chairs, so everybody has distance.”
Social distancing isn’t always easy to enforce.
“We tell families to social distance and stay six feet apart,” Basler said. “But, it’s hard for family members to understand when they’re already together. But, at least whenever people come in to pay their respects, they know they can keep their distance.” …

As coroner, Basler could theoretically be asked to determine whether an individual’s death was COVID-19 related. Making that determination would not be feasible, however.
“As the coroner, I really don’t have a way to test, once they’ve passed,” Basler said. “I don’t know how to get one. But, I’m worried about my safety, so there’s things that I’m doing on the scene to protect my safety that could potentially falsify a test, anyway.
“Unless I have a test to do right there, when I first make contact, it’s not happening.”As coroner, Basler could theoretically be asked to determine whether an individual’s death was COVID-19 related. Making that determination would not be feasible, however.
“As the coroner, I really don’t have a way to test, once they’ve passed,” Basler said. “I don’t know how to get one. But, I’m worried about my safety, so there’s things that I’m doing on the scene to protect my safety that could potentially falsify a test, anyway.
“Unless I have a test to do right there, when I first make contact, it’s not happening.”

See complete story in the May 13 edition of the Herald.

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