Being a final home director in Chakari, Louisiana, Sometimes when your neighbors see you in the parking lot, “Who died?”
Chakari, a suburb of Baton Rouge, has a population of about 18,000.
George Joseph “GJ” Charlotte III and his three siblings own one of the two final homes in Chakari. During corona virus outbreaks, they have found their business – like many small town funeral homes across the United States – and have seen the disaster unfold close and private.
The business has been in the Charlotte family since their grandfather and his brother opened it in the 1940s. Charlotte is one of three funeral directors at the Charlotte Family Funeral Home. He grew up 20 miles north of Chakra behind another funeral owned by his family in Clinton, Louisiana, which was damaged in the August 2016 historic flood.
Since he was raised in a final home, Charlotte knows how to prepare for the worst. He was taught at a young age to fill a gas tank before a local high school concert, in case of deaths from accidents caused by drunk driving.
But even Charlotte was not ready for the Govt-19 epidemic. “For the first two months, it was very scary because we didn’t have a lot of guidance on what to do,” he said. If body bags are a short supply some bodies need to be wrapped in sheets.
Charlotte was worried because he was unaware of the danger of catching Covid-19 from the dead body. Members of Charlotte and other staff went upstairs and beyond and tried to protect themselves by wearing surgical clothing wherever they went. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the risk of infection from a dead body was low because they were not breathing.
Initially, Charlotte did not allow funeral home services inside and only held cemetery funerals, which they tried to limit to 10 people. But it is not easy for grieving family members to follow the rules.
“Make no mistake, folks, you know … they did what they wanted to do,” he said. “We have no way of keeping people away from funerals.”
Final Home now allows indoor services for 75 people or less. Charlotte is worried about catching the virus from a funeral attendant, who may have been in close contact with the deceased before she died.
“It’s rare for us to have a funeral where we don’t know someone in the family or have some contact with them. It’s a very social situation,” he said. “These days, I let everyone in the building and then I go back to my office and close the door. I try not to interact with people as much as I am used to. ”
The Louisiana Department of Health says there have been 552 cow deaths in East Baton Rouge Church, where Chakri is located. The church has had an average of 10% positive rate over the past six weeks. During the same period, an average of 13% of those tested for Govit-19 in two censuses producing sugar were positive.
There have been more deaths in the community due to the cove, but it did not drown the funeral, Charlotte said. They usually handle five services a week. But thanksgiving has increased the number of Govt deaths, he said. Funeral services for some deaths at Louisiana State Prison in Angola. Sixteen inmates from Govt-19 have died in prison.
Charlotte has a printer in her clippings folder that she would like to read at her funeral. “Humans need a farewell ritual,” he said. “You have to admit someone’s death.”
But his 80-year-old uncle recently caught the cove and was very unwell. If he dies, Charlotte does not want her mother to go to the funeral. “I want people to use more caution and take advantage of writing a condolence letter,” he said. “This is a different place for me. It’s against my livelihood.”
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