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COVID-19 delays shipment of cemetery markers

Published: Apr. 29, 2021 at 4:46 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - More demand for funeral services is now causing delays for products related to the industry. It’s a national problem affecting businesses here in Kansas.

Tom Morris, President of Downing & Lahey Mortuaries & Crematory, said cemetery markers coming from Asia are taking up to 8 to 10 months before they arrive in Kansas.

COVID-19 has been blamed for more than 4,900 deaths in Kansas. Now, it’s being blamed for delays in getting headstones.

“Marker companies are having a hard time getting the granite in to get them cut and made and set,” said Morris.

He said his wholesaler, CVI Funeral Supply out of Newton, gets its polished granite overseas from India and China, but a majority of their supply is domestic and comes from quarries in Georgia, Minnesota, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Vermont.

”There’s been a delay in containers from there and the domestic quarries also due to COVID-shutdowns. And now recently, labor shortages, have been slower in getting things out. And much higher volume of business for them,” said Morris.

With more than 570,000 COVID-related deaths in the U.S., the funeral services industry is experiencing longer delays. For Downing and Lahey, the priority is helping families with the burial or cremation process.

”We’re all having issues with people and with supplies, but everyone’s doing what they can to get things done. And right now, this time of the year, the big push is to get things done by Memorial Day cause the most typical time they visit the cemetery.”

Morris said those in need of services like his are just asked to be patient.

FEMA is now offering financial assistance for funeral expenses due to COVID. As of Wednesday, the federal agency said it had received more than 148,000 applications and rewarded $423,000 since the program launched April 12.

If you’re in need of financial assistance, call 844-684-6363, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. eastern time. The agency offers multilingual services for 40 different languages. You must have already paid for funeral expenses after January 20, 2020, and the deaths must be attributed to COVID-19.

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