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An article by Fortune Magazine reports how coronavirus has transformed the death care industry. The article states that 3.35 million across the U.S. died last year, which far exceeds what the death trade can "easily" handle. Fortune wrote that 70% of the excess deaths were attributed to COVID-19; that's according to an analysis in a research letter published by a group of health professionals affiliated with Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Medicine.

Across the country, funeral homes, crematories, and cemeteries were reportedly under an extraordinary amount of stress as a system designed to handle a more predictable number of deaths (2.8 million) was tasked with much more.

At the same time, Steve Spann, president of John A. Gupton College, which specializes in mortuary science, says all funeral homes likely took a hit of 20% to 30% in revenue due to the inability to hold funeral services due to pandemic restrictions. Though, a funeral home in Chelan County, Washington says it recently had to hire more staff due to the demand associated with an increase in coronavirus deaths.

"We've seen a 25 to 30% uptake in amount of cases we received in the private sector, as well as a 25 to 30% increase the cases we've seen in the public sector. And a lot of these cases are a direct result of people catching the coronavirus," Jerred Lacy, Vice President and General Manager of Jerome D. Lacy Legacy Funeral Home in Overton, Texas told WTLV in August of last year.   

On the other hand, the article published by Fortune counters that attributing staffing shortfalls in the postmortem business due to heightened stress caused by the increased demand for death care.

In 2020, the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA), the projected the burial rate to be 37%, down more than 7% in 2015. Meanwhile, its projected cremation rate is 56%, an increase by more than 8%.

"Traditionally we do about 90% burials and 10% cremations, and now due to the COVID, this has completely flipped around," Lacy told WTLV. "We're going about 90% cremations, and with those cremations, those are cremations with funeral services or direct cremation. And we're going about 10% burials right now. And due to that, we've offered our services at a discount to the families, any family that is in need of our services due to COVID."

Lacy believes this trend will persist after the pandemic is over.

"That's the trend that can continue on even after the pandemic has subsided because a lot of families made this it the new norm," Lacy said. "Like we've been wearing these face masks, this is kind of the new norm."

WTLV reports that the stats back up Lacy's prediction. The NFDA projects by 2025, the burial rate will be 30% while the cremation rate will rise to 63%.