Podcast: New York Cemeteries During The Peak Of COVID-19

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

As states across the country start to relax shelter-in-place orders and re-open parts of the economy, the initial COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S. has begun to slow down. No area of the country was hit harder than New York City, which became the epicenter for the outbreak. Though the severity of the outbreak in New York was unique, there is a lot of value in hearing a firsthand account of what cemeteries in tthe area were dealing with.

That's why I wanted to share the latest episode of Death et Seq, a podcast from Tanya Marsh. Marsh is a professor at Wake Forest University, teaching cemetery and funeral law, and an active presence in the industry. We have shared some of her work on the blog here before, like the Death Care Symposium at Wake Forest. This episode features two coversations with with two New York State Association of Cemetery (NYSAC) members: Phil Tassi, CFO of Ferncliff Cemetery and current president of NYSAC, and David Fleming, the legislative director of NYSAC.

Though this was recorded at the end of April during the peak of the outbreak in New York, the discussion with Mr. Tassi wide-ranging and insightful. He has a unique perspective at the intersection of cemetery regulations, operations, and finances. For example, NYC has the lowest number of crematories per capita in the country, and seeing upwards of 90% cremation during COVID-19 outbreak has pushed the cemeteries way beyond capacity. Additionally, New York has one of the most regulated cemetery industries, and Mr. Fleming goes more in-depth about those regulations, and the ways in which COVID-19 exacerbated issues that have been apparent for many years.  Head to deathetseq.com to listen to Episode 22.