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'We need help': NY funeral homes struggle as virus deaths surge

Pat Marmo
Posted at 8:53 PM, Apr 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-05 20:53:51-04

NEW YORK — Many funeral homes in New York and around the globe are in crisis as they try to meet surging demand amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Funeral directors are being squeezed on one side by inundated hospitals trying to offload bodies, and on the other by the fact that cemeteries and crematoriums are booked for a week at least.

Pat Marmo’s company in Brooklyn is equipped to handle 40 to 60 cases at a time, no problem. On Thursday morning, it was taking care of 185. He and others are desperate for help.

Marmo's office phone and two mobiles are ringing constantly at the Daniel J. Schaefer Funeral Home. He's apologizing to families at the start of every conversation for being unusually terse and insensitive, and begging them to insist hospitals hold their loved ones as long as possible.

"This is a state of emergency," he said. "We need help."