The pandemic death toll has so overwhelmed Los Angeles County that environmental rules limiting the number of cremations that can be performed each month are being temporarily lifted so that hospitals, funeral homes, and crematoriums can deal with the unprecedented influx of bodies.
The South Coast Air Quality Management District issued a ten-day moratorium on the cremation regulations Sunday at the request of the Los Angeles County Medical-Examiner Coroner and the county Department of Public Health.
“The current rate of death is more than double that of pre-pandemic years, leading to hospitals, funeral homes, and crematoriums exceeding capacity without the ability to process the backlog of cases,” the regulatory body said in a statement.
According to the Los Angeles Daily News, crematoriums that plan to exceed pre-COVID limits must provide written notice to the air quality district, be within 15 percent of reaching or exceeding one or more “applicable limits,” while keeping records of all operations exceeding limits and meeting other requirements.
Limits vary per facility and are based on emission factors and calculations at the time of permitting.
L.A. County has reported 13,848 deaths since the pandemic hit, including another 108 deaths reported on Sunday, while the county has reached more than 1 million cases overall.
COVID-19 Daily Update:
January 17, 2021
New Cases: 11,366 (1,014,662 to date)
New Deaths: 108 (13,848 to date)
Current Hospitalizations: 7,498 pic.twitter.com/FIc1u4s8c3
— LA Public Health (@lapublichealth) January 18, 2021
Funeral homes and cemeteries have had to turn away so many grieving families as deaths continue to mount that even the nation’s largest cemetery, Rose Hills Memorial Park and Mortuary in Whittier, is having a hard time meeting the rising demand, ABC 7 reports.
At 2,500 acres, Rose Hills is receiving twice its usual number of phone calls, and the burial process now takes at least a month where it used to take a week at most. Some families report waiting hours before someone at the cemetery answers their calls.