Funeral homes throughout the U.S. are now facing a shortage of body bags as a result of the mounting death toll brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.
Roll Call reported there is a backlog stretching multiple months on body bags.
And it said the shortage is raising questions about how to balance the dignity of the deceased while trying to reduce workers’ fears about potential COVID-19 exposure.
As a result of the short supply, body bags are sometimes reused two or three times, according to Roll Call. And when a body bag is not available, the deceased is sometimes wrapped in sheets and a mask is placed on the face.
One funeral home director reported using expired bags purchased during the H1N1 epidemic.
According to Roll Call the need for more bags is generated in part because of the standard to treat all deceased patients as if they had COVID-19. Occupational Safety and Health Administrative standards call for workers to use body bags for all those who die from an infectious disease.
“You want to have good quality material that won’t rip,” said Joyce deJong, a forensic pathologist and board member with manufacturer Mopec. “Pre-COVID, there were some bags made out of thinner material that rips pretty easily. Now there is this new normal. If it rips now, that’s a significant concern.”
Meanwhile, in April, the Pentagon was seeking to provide up to 100,000 body bags for use by civilian authorities. And the Department of Veterans Affairs had put in an order for $300,000 worth of body bags.
Jeffrey Rodack ✉
Jeffrey Rodack, who has nearly a half century in news as a senior editor and city editor for national and local publications, has covered politics for Newsmax for nearly seven years.
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