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Arizona funeral homes overwhelmed as COVID-19 deaths rise

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    PHOENIX (KPHO/KTVK) — As hospitals remain overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients fighting for their lives, funeral homes are feeling the impact too. Al Asta, the co-owner of Whitney and Murphy Funeral Home in Phoenix, says many homes are fighting to keep up with the flood of bodies coming in. “The last 90 days, our volume has now doubled to what we normally do,” said Asta.

December was the deadliest month since the start of the pandemic in our state. Alta says 40% of bodies coming into his funeral home have died from COVID-19 complications. To keep up with the demand, he is now building more space for bodies.

“We are about to expand. I am going to call it our refrigerator system, our cooling system, so we can put more people into that area of our facility,” said Asta.

Asta said some other Valley funeral homes don’t have that luxury. He says he has heard of some turning families away because they can’t serve them in the way they want.

Meantime, Banner Health hospitals are using a refrigerator truck to store bodies as their morgue occupancy remains high. Other major hospitals in the Valley say they still have adequate morgue space.

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