Thousands of COVID-19 deaths put a strain on New Jersey funeral homes

Funeral homes and crematoriums across New Jersey are becoming overwhelmed after over 3,000 state residents died from COVID-19-related issues.

News 12 Staff

Apr 16, 2020, 2:29 AM

Updated 1,463 days ago

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The president of a Nutley funeral home is doing what he can do to keep up, while also mourning the loss of his own son who passed away from the illness.
“He was a very special person,” says John Brown of S.W. Brown & Son Funeral Home.
Peter Brown, 53, was the third generation working in the family business. He served as the manager at S.W. Brown & Son. Days after his passing, John Brown has had to take over his son’s responsibilities.
“I’m coming in earlier and I’m leaving later and I’m doing more of the meetings with the families,” he says. “I have my moments, but I just try to keep going.”
Earlier this week, Gov. Phil Murphy said that more New Jerseyans have died from the virus than in the Korean and Vietnam wars combined. This is putting an added strain on funeral homes across the state.
“I’d say the volume is three times what we would normally be doing and we have had situations where we’ve had to refuse people. That we couldn’t accommodate them,” Brown says.
State Police Superintendent Col. Pat Callahan discussed on Wednesday crisis counseling and steps the state police have taken to aid those confronting so much death.
Photos: Countries Around the World Cope with COVID-19
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“[The Department of Environmental Protection] this week issued a waiver to allow crematoriums to extend their hours in order to assist with the stress that our systems are under,” Callahan said.
Brown says that employees at the funeral home are working long days.
“The staff is working a lot more hours. They haven’t been taking days off. They’ve been very, very hopeful and on top of that fact that we’ve had our own situation to deal with, they’re very understanding,” he says.
Brown says that even as he mourns the loss of his son, he and his staff will be there to assist any other New Jersey family that needs it.


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