Business has changed for funeral home owners who were severely impacted during the pandemic as the death toll rose.
These last responders are now focused on educating the community about getting vaccinated against COVID-19.
Pastor Chris Carter has been the head of New Hope Baptist Church for 27 years and the owner of C.C. Carter Funeral Home in Newport News.
He said the pandemic hit him hard.
“We were swamped. Even up until January, February, we had many cases coming through,” he said, stressing their focus on taking the proper precautions and adjusting services.
Business has slowed down, but he’s concerned about what the next few months could bring, and he’s focused on educating the community, which is mostly African American.
“I don’t want our business just to be because of premature death,” Carter said.
Mark E. Fisher, the owner of the M.E. Fisher and Tucker and Fisher Funeral Homes across Virginia, said his experience has been similar to Carter’s.
“We’ve seen the industry change 180 degrees. A lot came in with anguish because the families didn’t get a chance to visit the loved ones before death,” he said.
At the height of the pandemic, his staff handled about six deaths a week, numbers that have had a drastic impact on the industry.
He’s now concerned business will pick up again at an alarming rate. And as a last responder, he’s hopeful more people in his community will get vaccinated against COVID-19.
“We don’t want to go through what we did a year ago. Trust the science and what our leaders are telling us,” Fisher said.