Big Apple funeral homes are getting buried by the coronavirus.
With bodies coming in at a record pace due to the spread of COVID-19, funeral directors throughout the five boroughs told The Post they can’t keep up.
One Brooklyn funeral director said there are currently 60 bodies in her facility, another in Queens said he’s out of body bags and has to wait until April 19 for an opening at the local crematorium — while a third said she’s keeping a waiting list for the first time ever.
“The last couple of weeks have been totally out of control,” said Matthew Pinto, director of the Provenzano Lanza Funeral Home in Manhattan.
“On a normal day, our funeral home will do between one and two calls. Now we’re doing eight or nine. Honestly, we’re not equipped for it.”
Joe Neufeld, director of the Gerard J. Neufeld funeral home just five blocks from the city’s COVID-19 hotspot at Elmhurst Hospital, said he went from holding about 14 funerals a week to more than 50 last week alone.
He stopped having the services because his viewing room is now filled with remains.
“We had no choice,” he said. “I’ve had families call me telling me they can’t find anyone to take their loved one.”
“I have 25 remains in my back room and most of them are COVID cases,” Neufeld said. “I couldn’t bring people in because it could be dangerous. I just don’t know.”
In an open letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo this week, the National Funeral Directors Association pleaded with the governor to sign an executive order authorizing temporary licensing for out-of-state-funeral directors to come in to help.
“In the coming days, NFDA expects to deploy volunteers to New York City and is working with funeral service companies to meet supply needs,” the organization said in a statement Wednesday.
“These volunteers will assist with every aspect of laying an individual to rest to relieve the pressure on funeral home staff in New York City.”
There has been no response for Albany.
“Funeral homes in New York City and surrounding areas are overwhelmed,” said Mike Lanotte, executive director of the New York State Funeral Directors Associaton. “They are handling double, or more, cases than they would typically.”
“The sheer volume has stressed the system,” he said. “Properly handling decedents from their time of death to their final disposition takes time and right now the volume is working against us and time is the enemy.”
Meanwhile, the bodies keep coming — city officials said there are now nearly 78,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the city, with the death toll surpassing 3,600 as of Wednesday morning.
A worker answering the phone at the Gannon Funeral Home in Rose Hill in Manhattan called the increased workload “a s–t show.”
“I got 20 bodies in the back waiting to be cremated,” he said. “I got families on hold.”
Rayna Hewitt, director of Legacy Funeral Services in the Bronx, said the number of the dead she’s handling now is “50 times worse” than the casualties during the AIDS epidemic, saying “there wasn’t this amount of people dying in a day.”
Margaret B. Jackson, director of the Marcus Johnson Funeral Home in Brooklyn, called that deluge of dead “astronomical.”
“Right now we’ve got something I’ve never experienced in my life — a waiting list,” Jackson, a 20-year veteran of the industry, told The Post. “I tell people I can’t handle any more right now.”
“I take a break to cry every day,” she said. “And it’s happening so quickly.”
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