Dozens of bodies loaded up for cremation as NYC funeral homes struggle to keep up with demand during COVID-19 pandemic

Funeral directors at the Gerard J. Neufeld Funeral Home in Elmhurst, New York City are swamped.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the workload for this small, family-owned funeral home, operated by Joe Neufeld, has increased significantly.

"The phone just went crazy," Joe said.

On Wednesday, 25 bodies were being prepared to be moved to a crematorium in Vermont with a total of 80 bodies going out for cremation this week.

Neufeld said that because there are only two crematories in Queens the next available date is May 23.

The four-man team decided that if they were going to continue operating during the crisis, they would have to end visitation and serve only direct-burial or cremation cases only.

This means that some family members who weren't able to see their loved ones after they entered the hospital, are also unable to identify their bodies before cremation, and rely only on copies of tags and wristbands placed on patients when admitted to hospital and at their time of death.

As night fell, Joe and another funeral director, Omar Rodriguez, assisted in moving each of the bodies into the truck parked outside that will be taking them to Vermont Crematorium.