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Keeping caskets in stock is challenge for Arizona business, as COVID deaths rise

Posted at 6:20 PM, Jan 28, 2021

Arizona has hit over 900 deaths in one week from COVID-19, making the first week of January the deadliest week during the pandemic.

ABC15 has spoken with the doctors, nurses, public health experts, and scientists overwhelmed by the number of cases from COVID-19 and hospital admissions.

Another industry that is being overwhelmed right now is those in the funeral home industry, like PBF Manufacturing, where they make caskets and other products in Arizona for cemeteries and funeral homes directly.

“We’ve been in business 48 years and have never seen anything like this, not even for short periods of time, much less an extended period of time,” said Freddy Brown, President of PBF Manufacturing.

This week's White House coronavirus report shows a bleak outlook for Arizona, with our state topping the list for new cases, deaths, and hospital admissions.

The report, dated Jan. 24, ranks Arizona in the number one spot out of all 50 states, plus Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C., in the following categories: New cases per 100,000, new COVID-19 hospital admissions per 100 inpatient beds, and new deaths per 100,000.

Brown said that they started getting busy in June of 2020, during the first summer surge, but the amount of demand through the holidays has been overwhelming.

“You look at COVID-19 and people see the death numbers, and they say that can't be real, someone is skewing those numbers, but there’s no way they could skew those numbers to double my volume,” said Brown.

Brown, who has spent decades working with the funeral home industry, says the amount of loss is weighing on all of all them, "I see this firsthand, and dealing with all the funeral homes I deal with so I can judge what they’re doing, their staff is wore out, both the people that meet with the families, and the people that are dealing with the deceased are just overwhelmed.”