Funeral workers say they need higher COVID-19 vaccine priority

LAKEVILLE, MASS. (WHDH) - The family of a funeral director who died from COVID-19 says the state needs to do a better job of protecting funeral workers as health care workers and keep them from contracting the virus.

Brian Faidell said his father Bud, a longtime funeral director in Lakeville, died from COVID-19 last week after battling the virus for more than a month. Brian Faidell said his father believed he caught the coronavirus at a service.

“The family was very rushed, wanting to get things through … he took extra protocols but still ended up contracting it,” Faidell said.

Faidell said the CDC says funeral directors should be part of the first phase of vaccinations and more than 30 states have followed that guideline. Before his death, Bud Faidell pushed for the state to prioritize vaccines for the state’s 1,900 funeral workers.

CR Lyons, president of the Mass. Funeral Directors Association, said there’s a risk workers can catch the virus not only from living family members during services, but from bodies as well.

“There was a study from late January indicating COVID-19 is still quite virulent 36 hours after death,” Lyons said.

In a statement, the state’s COVID-19 Command Center said “This group was moved up from Phase 3 to Phase 2 of the state’s vaccination plan to align with CDC recommendations on January 12.”

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