Post-mortem COVID-19 testing now underway

Funeral homes in the East Valley have been busy helping families plan services in the midst of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.

With limited testing capabilities, many say their loved one was not tested for COVID-19 while in a hospital or long-term facility before they passed away. Now, officials have begun post-mortem testing.

On Thursday, family members say their final goodbyes to Carlota Perez. Carlota passed away in a long-term care facility where COVID-19 was detected.

"She did pass away from that, and we weren’t expecting that to happen," said Carlota's granddaughter, Sylvia.

On top of her loss, her family is also struggling with being unable to comfort each other.

"You can only go in 10 at a time," said Sylvia. "They recommend that you wear masks, and normally you’d embrace people and we can’t do that. It’s so stressful."

Legacy Funeral Homes works with several senior care facilities and hospitals in the East Valley. This week, county medical examiners began testing bodies for COVID-19.

"The medical examiner will come to the facility and do the testing." said Jenelle Gamboa. "Someone had passed at a care home, and they did the post mortem testing here at the funeral home."

A manager at one East Valley assisted living home tells FOX 10 it was extremely difficult for residents to get approved for COVID-19 testing while there was an outbreak inside the facility. At first, only those with symptoms were tested.

Gamboa believes the number of people who’ve died who are residents is much more than the data shows.

"I think it’s a lot higher.’ said Gamboa. "If they pass at a residence or a care home, I don’t think they’re getting testing. We don’t know really what the numbers are."

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Coronavirus (COVID-19) - How it spreads, symptoms, prevention, treatment, FAQ (In Spanish/En Español)

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In order to protect yourself from a possible infection, the CDC recommends: 

Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

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Stay home when you are sick.

Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.

Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

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