By CBSLA Staff

BURBANK (CBSLA) — Many funeral homes across Southern California are still trying to catch up after being overrun by a surge in COVID-19 deaths during the winter.

During the peak, Rose Hills Mortuary in Whittier said it had triple the number of cases, delaying funeral services by up to eight weeks. Even now, the wait remains about three to four weeks. (CBSLA)

“It’s the entire, you know, for lack of a better term, supply chain within the funeral industry in terms of, you know, getting a marker ordered, made, set on a gravesite,” Bob Achermann, director of the California Funeral Directors Association, said. “It just was so overwhelming that we’re still seeing the effects of that.”

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During the peak, Rose Hills Mortuary in Whittier said it had triple the number of cases, delaying funeral services by up to eight weeks. Even now, the wait remains about three to four weeks.

“Arrangement appointments are about two, possibly three weeks, to meet to make the arrangements,” Antoinette Lou, director of communications for Rose Hill, said. “However, our funeral services and visitations, we’re trying to book them, I’d say, about five to six days right after death.”

Lou said the current delays were largely because the indoor facilities have opened up, and many families have been willing to wait to have the services inside the chapel.

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“That’s kind of where a little bit of the hold up is right now,” she said.

Achermann said that burials have more elements for funeral homes to handle than cremations, but he said there have even been delays getting cremations.

“An individual cremation unit, the equipment, will be licensed as it were to perform so many cremations per day, per week, per month, per year,” he said.

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Industry experts said families can limit the amount of waiting if they have been able to make plans in advance and opt for smaller mortuaries that are now reporting no service delays.