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San Joaquin County funeral homes overwhelmed with coronavirus deaths

“I wouldn’t be surprised that if all of the funeral homes in the area are at or near capacity in the next 10 days,” Erik Hendrickson-Cruz said.

LODI, Calif. — As the death toll from coronavirus continues to increase in San Joaquin County and hospitals are overwhelmed, funeral homes are feeling the trickle-down effect

“What we are seeing now is probably the worse we’ve seen at our facilities since the pandemic began,” Erik Hendrickson-Cruz Regional Manager Funeral Home Operations said. “If I can’t get a permit signed by a doctor or a coroner in a timely fashion, I have to put off that burial or cremation.”

Hendrickson-Cruz is in charge of three funerals homes in Northern California located in Sacramento, Olivehurst, and Lodi. He said he had to buy additional refrigeration to hold all of the newly deceased people that have been brought to him, but soon he said he may have to turn people away.

“I wouldn’t be surprised that if all of the funeral homes in the area are at or near capacity in the next 10 days,” Cruz said.

Walt Scheffer operates a funeral home in Lodi and said he is on the brink of running out of options

“We are full. We’ve had to create additional storage racks and things of that nature just to be able to accommodate, and so far, we are doing OK, but it came pretty close yesterday,” Scheffer said.

Scheffer said he is storing bodies longer than usual due to a limited amount of family members being allowed at visitation, creating an additional backlog of deceased being kept in the freezers.

“They haven’t been able to say goodbye in the hospital. They want to be able to say goodbye here, and so we are doing everything we can to facilitate that,” Scheffer said.

And there appears to be no end in sight of the mounting death toll.

“If I needed a freezer right now brought in I wouldn’t be able to get it for months. If I needed extra racking I couldn’t get it. Everything is backlogged,” Scheffer said.

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