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Death care workers lobbying to get vaccine in Ohio

Governor DeWine says the state is considering options, while some funeral home workers in Toledo have already been vaccinated locally.
Published: Feb. 3, 2021 at 11:52 PM EST
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - Last week, Governor Mike DeWine was asked about including death care workers in the state’s COVID-19 vaccination plan.

Many other states, including Michigan, already include funeral home workers and embalmers in their priority groups, but industry professionals in Ohio are still lobbying for this opportunity. All the while, going into hospitals and homes, handling the bodies of people who have died from the virus.

“People who do embaling, I think, make a very strong case. We’re actually reviewing that right now,” explained Governor DeWine at his conference on January 28th. “Certainly, keeping funerals, tragically, that moving forward is very important, so we are looking at that.”

Jim Raczkowski, Director for Newcomer Funeral Home in Toledo says they also spend time around family members who may have been exposed to COVID, while handling arrangements, and during services.

“We’ve been trying to push as much as we can so we have that one-step advantage for ourselves and the families we are serving,” says Raczkowski, who explains their many new precautions while at work.

“We as embalmers have always utilized personal protective equipment at any time we may just be a little more cautious now than we have been in the past. We have to make sure we have a steady supply of our gloves, masks, gowns, coverings for our shoes. When we handle anyone’s loved one that comes into our care, we don’t know some of the times what they passed from, so we have to take extra special precautions to make sure we’re protecting ourselves and the disease from anything we may come into contact with.”

Many in the industry were expecting to be in Ohio’s first phase of vaccinations, alongside healthcare workers.

After being excluded, some staff in Toledo say they were still able to get the shot through the Toledo Lucas County Health Department.

“Some of us have been lucky enough to receive the first vaccination by contacting the health department here locally and getting registered,” says Raczkowski, who already got his first dose of the vaccine. “It’s important we receive the vaccinations that would help eliminate any cause for concern down the road and keep us healthy so we can keep doing what we do and serving our families.”

Raczkowski also tells 13abc nationwide, the Newcoming Funerals company hosted a record number of over 800 funerals during December 2020.

Locally, they tell us there were 100 more funerals compared to December 2019 at their Toledo locations.

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