Georgetown | October 2020

group, all Central Texas death calls are up,” he said. “The death rate in general seems to be increasing.” WCCHD data too showed an increase in deaths in 2020 after adjusting for population growth, partic- ularly in June, July and August, with the greatest spike in July. “We only have cumulative death data at this point and it is pending analysis, but the trend would indicate a rise in deaths for certain periods in 2020,” WCCHD Spokeswoman Deb Strahler said. “The cause of death analysis is still under review, so determining if the cause was from a person not seeking routine care cannot be determined by our data at this time.” Finding solace Strict protocols in funeral homes and hospitals have also stripped some families of the opportu- nity to say goodbye before their loved one has died, Gabriels funeral home Business Manager Michele Ellison said. Ellison said she has worked with families who could not visit with a loved one due to no-visiting rules, to which she said often led to more diculties in planning a funeral as family members felt they were unable to honor the deceased properly when only a few people could attend. “For a lot of these families, this is probably the biggest challenge for them in that they haven’t seen their loved ones for a number of days and weren’t able to be with them,” Ellison said. “They didn’t get any kind of nal goodbyes with them, and they didn’t get to see them so they feel like they’ve died alone. They feel like they’ve been cheated.” And for many of those grieving, the pandemic has also altered the process, licensed counselor Kelly McCabe said. Funerals, while clothed in sadness, allowed for human interaction in its simplest form whether that be a hug or a pat on the hand, McCabe said. The pan- demic changed that. “I think one of the things that COVID[-19] has really demonstrated for all of us is how important that in-person contact really is,” McCabe said. “I think [the pandemic is] certainly having an impact

Funeral attendance is reduced to 50% capacity.

on how much of that connection we’re actually get- ting and experiencing and any relief that we would normally feel in those settings.” McCabe said funerals often serve as an oppor- tunity for grieving family members to transition through the ve stages of grief, but when families are not able to host funerals as they want or planned due to protocols in place, they can nd themselves stuck and unable to nd closure. She added that having moments and gathering with people that loved their loved ones as they did is imperative to reaching acceptance. Instead, she said many might nd greater feelings of loneliness rather than closure. “Closure is not happening for a lot of people,” McCabe said. “But I think the most important thing is to really be mindful of how much of a storm we’re really in and to give yourself that permission to really have a hard time.”

(Photos by Ali Linan/Community Impact Newspaper)

that bodies are kept in specially sealed caskets and only a closed-casket service is conducted, he added. “With all the precautions we have to take, … it’s limiting families to what services [families] can do,” Ramsey said. As far as the number of COVID-19 positive services conducted in Georgetown, both Ramsey and Kunze have said they have not had many at their funeral homes. For example, in July, Ramsey funeral home hosted 65 services, of which ve were COVID-19 positive, Ramsey said. As of time of print, 23 Georgetown residents had died from the novel coronavirus accounting for 15.97% of the Williamson County COVID-19 deaths which sat at 144, according to Williamson County and Cities Health District data. Of the reported conrmed COVID-19 cases in Wil- liamson County, the deaths account for 1.61%. In Georgetown, deaths account for 1.42% of total cases, data shows. However, Jared King, of Cook-Walden Davis Funeral Home, said he estimates all death calls—not just coronavirus-related deaths—are up by 15% in the Central Texas area. “I know from our own gures in the Cook-Walden and Weed Corley Fish groups and through conversa- tions with other funeral homes in the area not in our

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Homes ask only immediate family be near eachother.

Confronting grief COVID-19 has also impacted the grieving process. Here are some grief counselors in Georgetown. This list is not comprehensive. Anchored Hope Counseling Georgetown Child and Family Counseling Intervention Services Living Life Counseling Turning Point Psychological and Counseling Services

The family of Emanuel Perry wore masks during his funeral services to prevent the spread of COVID19.



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