Funeral homes in Marion County pause indoor memorial services

Six funeral homes in Marion County have signed a moratorium against holding indoor memorial services for the rest of the year. 

This comes after local pastors rallied together asking for the move in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19 in the community. 

Felix Snow has been working in the memorial service industry for 35 years. His phone at Snow’s Funeral Ministry has been ringing off the hook. 

"I never thought I’d see the day like this in my lifetime," said Snow. 

He is the owner and licensed director of Snow’s Funeral Ministry. Before the pandemic, he averaged two to three funeral services a week. Now his funeral home in Ocala averages six to eight a week. 

"Every other phone call is a death call. Someone’s dead. Maybe three out of five of those calls are COVID calls," said Snow. 

Snow has joined with local pastors to move memorial services outdoors to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. 

Marion County’s positivity rate sits at 25.1% which is more than 8% over the state’s average. 

"We don’t want to lose another person. We don’t want to lose another congregation. We don’t want to lose another Deacon or pastor or first responder to this pandemic," said Bishop J. David Stockton III. 

The outdoor services will be held graveside. Funeral home directors say this protects everyone involved and doesn’t take anything away from the service. 

 "We still had that feeling of being on the inside," said Rev. Dr. Rhella Murdaugh. "It’s not about where you are. It’s what you put inside of the things that you’re doing with your family."

Pastor’s say they are seeing more people turn out to funeral services during the pandemic because COVID-19 has stripped the chance for many to give a final goodbye. 

"To see the struggle, I’ll never be able to get that visual out of my head," said Rev. Dr. Tanya Hanks. "I don’t want to have to experience that again or this again this is my personal prayer."

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