Last week, The National Funeral Directors Association sent letters to the President of the United States and Congressional Leadership requesting for additional legislation identifying deathcare workers amongst essential critical infrastructure workers.
The WFDA joined over 50 other state associations and deathcare organizations in signing these letters showing our support of the following requests:
To help deathcare professionals in communities throughout the nation continue to safely care for the dead while offering comfort to those who grieve, we thank you for your attention to three critical issues as you craft additional legislation to address this crisis:
1. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) availability and access:
In order to perform essential public health tasks, deathcare workers must have access to PPEs. Caring for the body of an individual who has died of COVID-19 puts funeral directors and embalmers at risk for exposure to the virus. We ask that you include deathcare workers as an “essential service” so they can have priority access to PPEs.
2. Exemption from quarantine orders:
We request exemption from federal and state “lock down” and “shelter in place” orders and mandatory business closures. We urge federal guidance to clarify that “essential infrastructure” and “essential businesses and services” includes deathcare providers – which provide essential services that are critical to the health, safety and sanitation of communities– as well as suppliers of funeral products to funeral homes, cemeteries and crematories.
3. Priority for vaccines:
Due to the high risk of exposure to the COVID-19 virus while caring for the bodies of those who die of COVID-19, we urge that deathcare workers be included in the top-tier of essential services to receive a vaccine when it becomes available. In 2008 when faced with the H1N1 Pandemic, CDC elevated “Mortuary Service Providers” to the Tier II level for vaccine prioritization. There are six tiers to the system with the most critical workers and personnel in Tiers I, II, and III. We ask for similar consideration for our members with a COVID-19 vaccine as we confront this latest pandemic.