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Amid COVID-19 outbreak, state changes rules for funeral homes & hospitals handling bodies

The state of Michigan is modifying rules for how hospitals and funeral homes handle human remainsin the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the past, the state just required hospitals and funeral homes make a “reasonable effort” to contact family members before turning to the local medical examiner to decide what to do with the remains.

But the COVID-19 pandemic is overwhelming their ability to store bodies awaiting burial.   

The rule change requires hospitals and funeral homes to only spend 24 hours trying to contact family or others with authority over disposition of the deceased. 

The state is also imposing a 48-hour limit on people to make decisions about what should happen with their loved ones remains. 

Phil Douma is the executive director of the Michigan Funeral Directors Association.

He says “the state’s directive will assist funeral directors as they work with families to address this very unique and tragic situation.”

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Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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