COVID-19 forces changes to funerals and visitations

    Funeral homes in Steelville and Cuba have been coordinating their response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and have made several changes to their services to reduce the risk of exposure to the virus for the foreseeable future.

    “These procedures are for all three funeral homes as we have been in close communication with each other,” said Paul Hutson, of Hutson Funeral Home in Steelville and Cuba. “So far, families we have served have been cooperative and understanding during these difficult times.”
    The funeral homes—Hutson in Steelville and Cuba, Mizell in Cuba, and Britton-Bennett in Steelville—are following the guidance of the Missouri Funeral Directors and Embalmers Association, Centers for Disease Control and the Missouri governor’s office. Each has been closely monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic.
    Until further notice, the funeral homes strongly suggest that no public visitations be scheduled. Private, family-only visitations with no more than 10 people will be allowed at a time, provided proper social distancing is observed and people maintain a six-feet distance between each other.
    Families are being asked to refrain from forms of physical condolences such as hugs, kisses and handshakes. Private graveside services will be held and attended by no more than 10 family members, funeral home staff, and clergy.
    For those families choosing cremation, they may still have a private family-only visitation and funeral service, or they may schedule a public memorial service at a later time.
    “We want to make sure that families can properly say goodbye to their loved ones,” the funeral homes announced in a prepared statement. “However, we must consider our community, ourselves and our staffs and our own families’ safety during this time. Together we can flatten the COVID-19 curve. Stay safe…God Bless you and your families.”
    “Families have been understanding, but they want to grieve and be with people,” said Bill Bennett, of Britton-Bennett Funeral Home.
    Don Mizell, of Mizell Funeral Home in Cuba, said changes have also been made for graveside services, noting that vault companies are no longer setting up tents and artificial grass at graves and are only providing casket lowering devices. Mizell added that he has been coordinating with pastors, noting the Catholic Church Diocese of Jefferson City has said its churches will continue to do funeral masses, but only for up to 10 people.
    “Even before all this started, we had a family that decided it didn’t want to do a big visitation and service out of concern for their family and friends,” said Mizell. “Everyone has been very understanding.”
    Eaton Funeral Home in Sullivan is also under similar restrictions, but it has limited funerals and visitations to up to 10 total people and is not allowing people to come and go during visitations. That is being done due to social distancing guidelines now in place in Franklin County.