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San Luis Obispo County

Mortuaries, crematories in San Luis Obispo allowed to open for extended hours as COVID-19 death toll rises


SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. - As the U.S. recorded its largest single-day death toll from COVID-19, and San Luis Obispo County deaths exceeded 100, the City of San Luis Obispo decided to help local crematory and mortuary businesses keep pace with the demand.

Thanks to an emergency proclamation, effective immediately, these businesses may now extend their hours of operations as needed “to protect the public health, safety and welfare during such time as the declared pandemic emergency continues."

The emergency proclamation was issued Thursday night by SLO City Manager Derek Johnson under special authority granted during times of emergency to make and issue rules and regulations on matters related to the protection of life and property. The City Council will be asked to ratify the order at its next scheduled meeting on Jan. 12.

“I can’t think of a clearer sign of the times than this,” said City Manager Derek Johnson. “We need everyone to do their part to slow the spread of COVID-19, now more than ever. Each of us has the power to save lives by wearing face coverings, avoiding gatherings, staying at least six (6) feet away from people outside our households, washing our hands often and staying home as much as possible.”

The proclamation was made in response to requests from Wheeler Smith Mortuary and Reis Family Mortuary which asked the city to remove restrictions on hours of operation due to increased demand and the expectation of even more post-holiday deaths.

Under city zoning rules, crematory and mortuary businesses were only allowed to operate Monday through Friday between 7:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Records show the two facilities mentioned above are the only crematory or mortuary businesses that operate within the city, but their service areas extend countywide.

Dr. Penny Borenstein, SLO County's Public Health Officer, said COVID-19 is now the leading cause of death in San Luis Obispo County as well as nationwide.

For breakdowns of COVID-19 cases throughout San Luis Obispo County, click here.

Coronavirus / Money and Business
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Jessica Brest

Jessica Brest is a digital journalist and assignment editor for NewsChannel 3-12. To learn more about Jessica, click here.

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