COVID-related deaths climbing in Aiken County, funeral home owner speaks on business impacts

Aiken County

AIKEN COUNTY

AIKEN COUNTY, S.C. (WJBF) – COVID-19 deaths are starting to rise in Aiken County.

“It’s really hard to see people suffering. I think the hardest part for me was seeing family members, lose loved ones,” George Funeral Home owner Cody Anderson told NewsChannel 6’s Aiken Bureau Chief about the pandemic.

The number of people with COVID is climbing, just like the death toll from the virus since the start of the new year.

Newschannel 6 learned that in January, there were 34 COVID-related deaths in Aiken County. Numbers slowed May through July. Now in August, the number is 21 but could change by the end of the month.

“We saw the spike in the winter months of November through January. Then during the summer months when people started getting vaccinated, we saw a decrease and then now the variant has reared its head, we have seen a spike again,” he shared.

George Funeral Home and Cremation Center is seeing a big demand for their services during the pandemic.

“Our caseload increased significantly, you know, the demand from the hospitals and, you know, us retrieving and bringing loved ones into our critical care increased. We were at capacity,” the owner added.

Anderson also says they’ve increased their manpower and ability to provide important services. “We actually had to, over the pandemic, increase our storage facilities, especially climate control parts of our building. We increased it to help not only the families who we serve but also to be a backup say should the county need extra refrigeration.”

While the pandemic has brought a few challenges to the industry, it forced a bigger reliance on technology, which made it easier for friends and families to connect. “We found during the pandemic that, you know, folks weren’t able to travel to be here with their loved ones. They weren’t able to participate friends weren’t able to. So what we offered was live streaming services, and we found during the pandemic, that that was really, is really rewarding,” Anderson recalled.

In general, Anderson’s funeral home saw an overall increase in deaths that could have been connected to the virus in a different way. “Now, some of those were not COVID related, the data might say that you know, stress and dealing with the pandemic was part of that with along with people having underlying conditions.

Meanwhile, the Aiken County Coroner told Shawn that his office is investigating another suspected coronavirus-related death from Friday, August 29. But no official conclusion has been made yet.

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