Social distancing overwhelming funeral homes, crushing grieving families

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Seventy-eight more Pennsylvanians died on Tuesday from the coronavirus. Both the volume of fatalities and the necessity of social distancing has overwhelmed the funeral business, and that is crushing grieving families.

Last month, 68-year-old Genevieve Griffin Mickens passed away unexpectedly in North Philadelphia.

Her son, Eric B. Hodges, was placed in charge of arrangements but he was blindsided by what the funeral director said.

"We couldn't bury my mom properly because of what was going on with the coronavirus," said Hodges said.

There was no viewing or church service, social distancing rules prevented that.

Instead, only Hodges, Genevieve's sister, Hazel, her niece Ernestine and seven others were allowed to attend a brief service.

Hodges live-streamed it so extended family could see.

"I know for a fact my mom was very good to a lot of people. She treated a lot of people well. She helped a lot of people that couldn't come and pay their respects to her and that really bothered me," said Hodges.

"If we had more family support I think we could have gotten through it better but when you're quarantined inside it's hard to have to go through death alone," said Ernestine Easley.

On Tuesday we spoke with Mr. Julian Nix, owner of Nix and Nix Funeral Home in North Philadelphia.

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He's the one doing the services for fallen Philadelphia Police Lt. James Walker who died of the virus Sunday.

He said, "He has to get the best honors that he should get but he can't because we can't have a nice, decent funeral for him."

There will be no gatherings or memorial services like fallen police officers deserve.

Nix says Lt. Walker's wife hasn't even been able to see him.

"She couldn't even see him at the hospital. So you gotta understand this and they've been married for 36 years. Can you imagine that?" said Nix.

Nix says later down the road there are plans to have a memorial service for Lt. Walker.
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