Funeral homes: The ‘last responders’ in the COVID-19 pandemic

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CHICAGO – Health care workers, police and paramedics are no doubt the first responders on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Lesser known is the impact this outbreak has had on a group known as “the last responders.”

“The worst that I can remember is the heat wave of 1995 and that doesn’t even compare to what’s going on now,” said Marguerite Gatling.  The Gatling family has been helping Chicagoans through loss for more than three decades.  

“We want to stay home as well; but we can’t,” said Lafayette Gatling, Sr.  “We’re committed to doing what God wants us to do.  When the families call, we must go.”

Death in the age of COVID is especially painful given that many people’s last days are spent in isolation. “It’s a whole different experience to deal with grief and not being able to say your goodbyes,” said Mrs. Gatling.  

Funeral home workers also worry about contracting the virus and are suffering from a shortage of masks, gloves and other protective equipment.  Watch the video above for the full story.

WEB BONUS: Watch this 1989 WGN profile on the opening of the Gatling Funeral Home’s “drive-thru” visitation service.

Data pix.


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