Crematoriums in Northern Baja can’t keep up with surge in COVID-19 deaths

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In this May 5, 2020 photo, workers in full protection gear as a precaution against the new coronavirus, unload a coffin that contain the remains of a person who died from the new coronavirus, in an area of the municipal cemetery set apart for victims of COVID-19, in Tijuana, Mexico. (AP Photo/Joebeth Terriquez)

TIJUANA (Border Report) — Crematoriums are reportedly operating ’round the clock in Tijuana and other cities in Northern Baja, California, and still can’t keep up with the demand, causing delays for people looking to cremate loved ones who have died of COVID-19.

A woman named Veronica says she had to wait a week to cremate her aunt, who died of COVID-19 in early January.

They couldn’t wait, so Veronica and her family sent the body to a facility in Ensenada, about an hour south of Tijuana, hoping to have the cremation done sooner.

“There are so many dead bodies because of COVID. Imagine having to cremate so many people. At least my aunt is finally resting,” said Veronica, adding that the family chose cremation over burial because of the cost involved.

“We paid $400 for the cremation, but for a burial it would have been double, and that would’ve been the cheapest service. We wouldn’t have been able to pay for a viewing, that’s why we chose cremation,” she said.

With people like Veronica looking for options in other cities like Ensenada, it has forced funeral homes and crematoriums to have delays in that city. Some are reporting their furnaces are breaking down from overuse.

“We are returning ashes three to five days late, it used to be you’d get them back in a day, everything is saturated and now the furnaces are not working,” said an unidentified funeral home worker. “People are moving the dead around to crematoriums where bodies are literally lined up waiting to go into the furnaces.”

Since the pandemic began in Tijuana, an average of 20 people are dying daily, according to statistics from the state’s Secretary of Health. Since March 8, there have been 1,558 deaths attributed to COVID-19 in the city.

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