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Coronavirus (COVID-19) has overwhelmingly engrossed our lives, wherever you go it’s the center of the conversation. We want our community to know that we are keeping abreast of the updates regarding any new information or recommendations about this novel virus. We are closely monitoring the guidance of the World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control, Maryland Department of Health and Board of Morticians and Funeral Directors regarding the spread of COVID-19. We ask that you familiarize yourself with the recommendations of these entities and that you take reasonable precautions, especially if you are at risk or if your participation in activities at our funeral home could pose a risk to others.
We at Harry H. Witzke's Family Funeral Home are devoted to the safety of our staff and our community. Per Governor Hogan's announcement that gatherings must be limited to 10 people or less, we have decided to modify how we help our families on a day by day basis.
We will be making all arrangements primarily via phone, video chat, and/or email when possible. We are discussing options, such as webcasting, in order to help as much as we can during this time of loss and grief. Our primary goal is to do everything we can to uphold the traditions and values of a funeral or celebration of life within the parameters we have been given. We understand that this situation is difficult and frustrating during an already difficult life event. Please consider scheduling a memorial gathering at a later date when more people are allowed to be with you.
We are all part of wonderful community that is always looking out for each other's wellbeing. We have been consistently dedicated to providing whatever support that can be given time and again under unique, rapidly changing circumstances. We are strong and we will move forward together as we always have.
Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns via our email, email@example.com, or by calling us at (410)-465-2848.
Rest assured your safety is our highest priority and we truly appreciate the trust you have placed in our funeral home for over 100 years.
The Witzke Family and Staff
Updated: March 19, 2020 ~ 5:20pm
First, we are educated on infectious disease. A significant portion of our education is understanding the human body, the immune system, and how it is affected by viruses and bacteria. We as funeral directors are regularly exposed to different organisms, such as AIDS, HIV, MRSA, and hepatitis to name a few. Understanding how illness works is the first step in prevention. We combine that knowledge with nationwide regulations on how to stay safe in our unique workplace environment. We are trained on the use of personal protective equipment (PPE), such as gloves, masks, or eyewear and strictly follow all OSHA guidelines. Knowledge is key to understanding how the disease is transmitted to help reduce the chance of being exposed or inoculated. We are frequently checking several reputable sources for updates on the COVID-19 situation in our country and in Maryland.
We have taken increased steps to ensure the welfare of our employees, this includes instructing employees who feel ill to stay home and consult their health care provider. We are also urging employees to be vigilant about frequent hand washing and sanitation. We are diligently focused on cleaning our facilities with EPA recommended sanitizing products and increasing the frequency and monitoring of the technique's used to clean the funeral home.
Great question. We have begun to contact local clergy and community officials to discuss how we can work together in recognizing the threats with COVID-19. Funerals are for the living, and we will be diligent in our response during this pandemic to ensure the well-being of our staff, the families we serve, and the greater community. We are also members of the National Funeral Directors Association. Only a portion of all funeral homes belongs to this association. The NFDA sets standards for the best funeral homes in the country with comprehensive education and resources that are critical in times of concern. This allows these funeral homes to be leaders in times of tragedy and uncertainty.
As for gatherings such as funerals and celebrations of life, we are discussing as a team the best ways we can continue with our funeral and memorial gatherings under the new parameters set by Governor Hogan. As I mentioned, this pandemic response is new to all of us so if you have helpful suggestions, we are more than willing to discuss them. We will have options, including webcasting, posted with more detailed information in the coming days.
1) You will hear this time after time: WASH YOUR HANDS frequently. The best way to avoid contracting COVID-19 is to wash your hands as often as possible. Wet your hands with warm water, then apply a mild soap. Work the soap into a lather for 20-30 seconds, then rinse your hands clean under warm running water. This is about how long it takes to sing the “Happy Birthday” song to yourself twice. The World Health Organization recommends not just rubbing your hand’s palm to palm but interlacing and interlocking your fingers in a variety of different ways to make sure every surface is clean. Use the paper towel you dry your hands off with to turn off the faucet. If you can’t wash your hands, use a hand sanitizer that contains 60-95% alcohol. Alcohol percentages higher than 95% are actually less effective.
2) Keep your hands away from your face: eyes, nose, and mouth. If you need to do so, wash your hands first.
3) Limit personal contact with others. Everyone is joking around about the fist or elbow bump, but we should be refraining completely. Restrained physical contact is completely foreign when it comes to funerals or memorial services. Hugs, among other things, are how we show our friends and family that we care and we know there is an uncomfortable feeling that you might experience when you cannot offer that physical gesture of comfort and support. However, until the risk subsides, we ask that you show you care by refraining from any contact with those attending funerals.
1) The number one rule: if you are sick stay away. Let’s not complicate the family’s grief by potentially exposing them to this novel coronavirus or other illnesses that could compromise their immune system, making an otherwise healthy person more susceptible to COVID-19. Once these gatherings are deemed safe again, there will be plenty of opportunities to visit friends and family later.
2) Small children have been spared of this novel coronavirus for the most part at this time, but that doesn’t mean they can’t get it. Children and the elderly are the most vulnerable to viruses. During these times, we ask for your due diligence (but ultimately decide for yourself) if you will be bringing them to public gatherings such as funerals and memorial gatherings.
3) Much attention has been given to wearing masks. Unfortunately, masks do not prevent those that are healthy from getting sick. For those who are sick, the mask helps lessen airborne particles when you sneeze or cough. The current advisory is that masks are most beneficial for those who are immunocompromised (children, the elderly, people with autoimmune diseases) or those who are already sick.
4) If you are coming to a gathering, consider limiting your time present. Find the members you wish to express condolences to and then move on. Give them space, a few feet at the very least, and refrain from hugging or giving handshakes.
5) Consider giving your condolence card at a later date, we can’t know how many people have touched the envelope or card. Another option is making a donation to an organization that was near and dear to the deceased’s family.