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  • September 11, 2020 5:03 PM | Caroline Bowers (Administrator)

    Thank you for your patience and support as we plan the best course for our convention this year. The WFDA has polled our membership and weighed the liabilities/ risks of holding an in-person convention in October of this year. After originally postponing the June event to October, we are now choosing to convert our convention to a virtual series of continuing education and cermonies starting Tuesday, October 27, 2020.

    We will kick off the virtual event series with our General Business Session and OSHA on Tuesday, October 27, 2020. Schedule details are coming soon! We will be updating our website and sending emails relating to this event so please stay tuned to the Convention page on the WFDA website.

  • July 22, 2020 11:39 AM | Caroline Bowers (Administrator)

    Did you know that WFDA members have exclusive access to resumes submitted by those seeking jobs in funeral service? Check out the latest submitted resumes here. You must be signed in to view. 

    As a WFDA member, you can also submit a job posting at anytime that will be be listed on our website and in our bi-weekly newsletter, The Spotlight Express. Submit your job posting here.

    Looking for a new position in funeral service? Check out the latest job postings here!

  • April 02, 2020 8:47 AM | Caroline Bowers (Administrator)

    As you know, the CDC has issued guidance indicating that embalming confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases is safe, so long as funeral professionals take precautions such as wearing proper PPE and making every possible effort to minimize splashing and aerosolization of fluids. Recognized embalming experts have offered their suggestions for how this might be accomplished.

    Recently, NFDA found alternate guidance on embalming from the World Health Organization (WHO), another recognized organization that has been on the front lines confronting COVID-19 around the globe.

    While WHO’s recommendations align with CDC guidance in important areas – bodies can be buried or cremated; there is no evidence of people becoming infected from exposure to the bodies of people who died of COVID-19; and families should avoid contact (i.e., touching, kissing, etc.) the body of the decedent – it differs on two key points:

    • Embalming is not recommended to avoid excessive manipulation of the body;
    • Adults >60 years and immunosuppressed persons should not directly interact with the body.

    We share this information from WHO in the interest of full disclosure and out of concern for your safety. We also note that WHO is a global organization and embalming standards and practices around the globe may or may not match the high safety standards to which funeral professionals in the United States adhere.

    NFDA is making every effort to clarify with the CDC if embalming can be done safely and whether or not older or immune-compromised people should perform this essential task.

    NFDA strongly believes that embalming and viewing the body is an important part of meaningful memorialization. However, we also recognize that the safety of funeral directors and embalmers is paramount.

    We urge you to seriously weigh the risks presented by embalming COVID-19 cases with the steps you have always taken to be safe while caring for the bodies of people who have died of highly-infectious diseases. Whether you are comfortable embalming a confirmed or suspected COVID-19 victim is a personal choice; you should use your best professional judgment to determine your comfort level with embalming these individuals. NFDA hopes that funeral home owners will respect the wishes of a funeral professional who is not comfortable embalming a pandemic victim, regardless of the reason.

    Should you choose to continue embalming victims of the pandemic; the CDC guidance represents the minimum precautions a funeral professional should take. You should use your best professional judgment to determine whether you should take additional precautions beyond what is recommended.

    While scientists have learned a lot about COVID-19 in a relatively short period of time, there are still many unknowns and guidance is evolving based on new data. As we learn of new guidance on embalming COVID-19 pandemic victims, we will share it as quickly as we can.


    National Funeral Directors Association

    13625 Bishops Drive | Brookfield, WI 53005

    p: 800.228.6332 | +1.262.789.1880

    f: 262.789.6977



  • April 01, 2020 10:18 AM | Caroline Bowers (Administrator)

    The WFDA is diligently working to advocate for funeral service professionals to have access to PPE. We have been in contact with the Wisconsin Emergency Task Force and have expressed our need for PPE’s, extra labor for funeral homes, and a streamlined process for funeral directors to understand what to do when the deaths occur. This task force is meeting TODAYand it is imperative that funeral directors across the state contact their County Emergency Manager to request PPE this morning. If enough funeral service professionals reach out, we have a better chance of receiving this critical equipment. Our membership is strong and our voices will be heard if we work together. 

    ****Please note that this is not a guarantee that you will receive your request, so keep checking with your funeral home suppliers to obtain PPE.

    Please reference your County Emergency Management Office to find the contact information for your County Emergency Manager. Call them as soon as you can and request PPE for your funeral home. 

    We will continue to keep you up to date as more information is released.

    -Wisconsin Funeral Directors Association


  • March 24, 2020 3:58 PM | Caroline Bowers (Administrator)

    Dear WFDA Members:

    Last Tuesday, March 17, Gov. Evers and the Wis. Dept. of Health Services issued a public Health Order that limited gatherings to 9 people or less in a room or enclosed area.  Part of that Order also required “social distancing” of six feet between persons.  Portions of that Order remain in effect even though the Governor and the DHS have issued a new Order (Emergency Order #12- Safer At Home Order).  The new “Safer At Home Order” is much more comprehensive and goes into full effect at 8:00am on Wednesday, March 25 and remains in effect until Friday, April 24 or until a superseding Order is issued.

    Very happily for Wisconsin funeral service practitioners and funeral establishments, the Order has a carve-out for funerals and funeral directors.  I want to thank WFDA’s lobbyist Tom Moore for his work at the Capitol  making sure that our concerns- as funeral directors- were specifically addressed.  There are four specific parts of the Safer At Home Order that I want to call WFDA’s members’ attention to:

    1. Essential Businesses and Operations at Paragraph 13a:  CISA is the federal Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency.  CISA has issued several memos and guidelines over the last few weeks, and especially last week Wednesday, March 18 (updated on March 23) when CISA noted that funeral home, mortuary, and cemetery workers were considered “essential” and therefore should be exempt from travel bans or curfews.  The CISA memo was not legally binding, but did carry great advisory weight.  The Safer At Home Order adopts the list of CISA businesses and workers  as being considered “essential” under Wisconsin law.  As such, funeral directors are essential workers under the new Safer At Home Order.  Funeral directors are still required to practice social distancing “to the extent possible.”
    1. Weddings, funerals, and religious entities at Paragraph 13h: Funerals are NOT exempt from the prohibition on “mass gatherings” which are defined as a “gathering of ten or more people.”  This stated a church or a funeral home may have services so long as there are fewer than 10 people in a room or otherwise confined space.  Social distancing of at least six feet between persons is required “as much as possible.”  If a church had a separate fellowship hall, there could be 9 people in the church proper, and nine people in the fellowship hall with a piped-in video feed so long as social distancing is maintained.
    1. Funeral establishments at Paragraph 13i:  funeral establishments (i.e. your funeral home or funeral chapel) may have a gathering of less than ten people in a room or confined space so long as the six feet of social distancing is adhered to “as much as possible.”  If you have two completely separate chapels, you could have nine people in one and nine in the other so long as social distancing is maintained.
    1. Essential Travel at Paragraph 15:  Funeral directors, as essential employees, are generally exempt from any travel bans so long as the travel is related to the provision of an essential service (in our case- funeral directing and the activities that are required to support funeral directing).  I strongly encourage funeral directors to keep their licenses on them at all times should they need to exhibit such to law enforcement officials

    Naturally, there are many questions and I have been doing my best over the last week to answer those questions for our WFDA members.  Four of the most commonly asked questions are:

    1. Does the “mass gathering” limit of less than ten people apply to cemeteries?  It would appear that it does not.  The “mass gathering” prohibitions all contemplate a single “room” or a “confined space” and a cemetery is neither.  [I would note that an indoor mausoleum would be a confined space.]  Social distancing still applies to any outdoor activity in any case.  As such, it would appear that one could have more than 9 people at a graveside service so long as the six feet of social distancing is maintained.  I admit that this would be a strange way to have a graveside service, but I leave it to your creativity.  I strongly suggest that you not have a tent or chairs present as this would invite people to break the social distancing requirement.   I do note that a large cemetery service may be a bit of a loophole as the entire idea of the Order is to minimize the spread of COVID-19, and a large gathering in a cemetery- even if social distancing is maintained- does not fulfill the spirit of the law even if it fulfills the black letter of the law.  That is a business and PR decision for each funeral firm to make.

    2. Can I “cycle” people in and out of the chapel so long as there are no more than 9 in the chapel at a time?  It would appear that yes, you can.  I again note that the purpose of the Safer At Home Order is to slow the spread of COVID-19 and therefore cycling people in and out of a chapel or church may comply with the black letter of the law but does not comply with the spirit of the law as the viral pathogen would be left behind as a residual in the air from multiple people respirating in a given space.  

    3. Does the new Order apply to churches?  Yes, it does.  I am aware of several clergy claiming that the government’s rules do not apply to churches under the idea of “separation of church and state.”  This is false.  The Order applies to churches, which may have nine or fewer people attend a service in a room or confined space so long as they practice social distancing.

    4. Do funeral home employees count towards the nine people?  Yes, if they are in the same room or confined area.  If they are not in the same room or confined area, then no, they do not count.  For example, An embalmer working in the prep room would not count toward the nine people limit because he or she is in a different room than those in the chapel. 

    I want to wish you all the best of luck as we navigate the legal, social, health, and economic issues that this situation has presented while still serving your families and the community with the dignity you have always displayed.  Please feel free to call or email me if you have any questions or concerns.  WFDA is here to help you, and we appreciate your membership.  Take care, my friends!

    Respectfully,

    Michael D. Sharkey, Esq.

    WFDA General Counsel

    (952) 334-4460

    msharkey@cvmmlaw.com


  • March 24, 2020 2:48 PM | Caroline Bowers (Administrator)

    Governor Evers has issued a "Safe at Home" order. The order is effective at 8:00 am on Wednesday, March 25, 2020 and remain in effect until 8:00 am Friday, April 24, 2020, or until a superseding order is issued.

    Importantly, funeral establishments are defined as essential services and may continue operations, provided the social distancing and indoor, confined space 10 person limits will apply.

    From the exemptions to the safe at home requirements in the order:

    Weddings, funerals, and religious entities. Religious facilities, entities, groups, and gatherings, and weddings and funerals, except that any gathering shall include fewer than 10 people in a room or confined space at a time and individuals shall adhere to Social Distancing Requirements as much as possible.

    i. Funeral establishments. Funeral establishments, as defined in Wis. Stat. § 445.01(6), except that any gathering shall include fewer than 10 people in a room or confined space at a time and individuals shall adhere to Social Distancing Requirements as much as possible.

    READ THE FULL ORDER


  • March 23, 2020 10:25 AM | Caroline Bowers (Administrator)

    Last week, The National Funeral Directors Association sent letters to the President of the United States and Congressional Leadership requesting for additional legislation identifying deathcare workers amongst essential critical infrastructure workers.

    The WFDA joined over 50 other state associations and deathcare organizations in signing these letters showing our support of the following requests:

    To help deathcare professionals in communities throughout the nation continue to safely care for the dead while offering comfort to those who grieve, we thank you for your attention to three critical issues as you craft additional legislation to address this crisis:

    1. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) availability and access:

    In order to perform essential public health tasks, deathcare workers must have access to PPEs. Caring for the body of an individual who has died of COVID-19 puts funeral directors and embalmers at risk for exposure to the virus. We ask that you include deathcare workers as an “essential service” so they can have priority access to PPEs.

    2. Exemption from quarantine orders:

    We request exemption from federal and state “lock down” and “shelter in place” orders and mandatory business closures. We urge federal guidance to clarify that “essential infrastructure” and “essential businesses and services” includes deathcare providers – which provide essential services that are critical to the health, safety and sanitation of communities– as well as suppliers of funeral products to funeral homes, cemeteries and crematories.

    3. Priority for vaccines:

    Due to the high risk of exposure to the COVID-19 virus while caring for the bodies of those who die of COVID-19, we urge that deathcare workers be included in the top-tier of essential services to receive a vaccine when it becomes available. In 2008 when faced with the H1N1 Pandemic, CDC elevated “Mortuary Service Providers” to the Tier II level for vaccine prioritization. There are six tiers to the system with the most critical workers and personnel in Tiers I, II, and III. We ask for similar consideration for our members with a COVID-19 vaccine as we confront this latest pandemic.


  • March 22, 2020 11:54 AM | Caroline Bowers (Administrator)

    The WFDA has sent the following correspondance on behalf of our membership to Governor Evers' office requesting that he use his emergency powers to identify deathcare workers among the essential critical infrastructure workers. 

    WFDA Letter to Gov. Evers - 2020-03-22.pdf

  • March 19, 2020 6:43 PM | Caroline Bowers (Administrator)

    For Immediate Release: March 19, 2020

    Contact: Jessica Koth, 262-814-1536, jkoth@nfda.org

    NFDA Scores BIG WIN for Funeral Service:

    Homeland Security Names Mortuary Workers as Critical Infrastructure Workers

     

    Brookfield, Wis. – At the urging of the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA), guidance issued today by the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) named mortuary workers as “critical infrastructure workers.” This underscores the vital role funeral directors and others who work in deathcare play in responding to the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

    For more than a decade, NFDA has worked to ensure that during any mass-fatality event, mortuary workers are considered critical infrastructure workers. As the COVID-19 pandemic began to intensify globally and reach American shores, NFDA intensified its call to federal officials to solidify this classification.

    The guidance noted words from President Donald Trump’s Coronavirus Guidance for America: “If you work in a critical infrastructure industry, as defined by the Department of Homeland Security, such as healthcare services and pharmaceutical and food supply, you have a special responsibility to maintain your normal work schedule.” 

    Mortuary workers, which the guidance defines as “Workers performing mortuary services, including funeral homes, crematoriums, and cemetery workers” and “Workers who coordinate with other organizations to ensure the proper recovery, handling, identification, transportation, tracking, storage, and disposal of human remains and personal effects; certify cause of death; and facilitate access to mental/behavioral health services to the family members, responders, and survivors of an incident,” are included in the “Healthcare/Public Health” category along with doctors, nurses, people performing testing and researchers. This essentially covers the full spectrum of those who work in deathcare.

    This guidance helps define for state and local public health officials the professions that are essential to the COVID-19 pandemic response. The guidance specifically notes that critical infrastructure workers should have priority access to personal protective equipment and be exempt from “shelter-in-place” mandates. While the guidance does not address priority access for a COVID-19 vaccine once it is developed, this guidance does signal that critical infrastructure workers would take precedence. NFDA is planning to send a letter to DHS asking them to prioritize mortuary workers once a COVID-19 vaccine becomes available.  

    “The ability of funeral professionals to safely carry out their duties during a mass-fatality incident is paramount. We were very pleased to see NFDA’s efforts pay off when the federal government recognized mortuary workers as critical to the COVID-19 pandemic response,” said NFDA CEO Christine Pepper, CAE. “The role that funeral directors and cemetery and crematory workers are playing during the COVID-19 pandemic is critical. While their work may be overlooked, they are truly on the front lines in helping to care for pandemic victims and grieving families.”

    NFDA is the world’s leading and largest funeral service association, serving more than 20,000 individual members who represent nearly 11,000 funeral homes in the United States and 49 countries around the world. NFDA is the trusted leader, beacon for ethics and the strongest advocate for the profession. NFDA is the association of choice because it offers funeral professionals comprehensive educational resources, tools to manage successful businesses, guidance to become pillars in their communities and the expertise to foster future generations of funeral professionals. NFDA is headquartered in Brookfield, Wis., and has an office in Washington, D.C. For more information, visit www.nfda.org.

  • March 19, 2020 4:31 PM | Caroline Bowers (Administrator)

    Free Live Event: COVID-19: Communicating With the Public and Using Technology to Serve Families - March 19, 2020

    • Important reminders about guidance from the CDC related to your ability to hold visitations and services
    • A discussion of how funeral homes are serving families in light of the latest guidance
    • Strategies for communicating with your community about your efforts to safely serve families
    Your Experts:
    • Moderator, Jessica Koth, NFDA Director of Public Relations
    • Walker Posey, Managing Director, Posey Funeral Directors, North Augusta, SC
    • Ryan Thogmartin, CEO, Disrupt Media
    NFDA will broadcast this event live on its Facebook page. You do not need a Facebook account to watch this live event.

    Friday, March 20, 2020

    9-9:45 a.m. CT

    NFDA continues to lead the conversation and keep the funeral profession informed about the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) situation. Join us for this free Facebook Live event that will cover:

    You do not need to register in advance; simply watch live on Facebook on Friday

    Please note: During the broadcast, if you notice lags in the audio or video feed, try refreshing your browser.

    Tune In On Friday: https://www.facebook.com/NationalFuneralDirectorsAssociation/ 

    A recording of this webinar will be posted to NFDA’s COVID-19 information page, www.nfda.org/covid19, within two hours of the live event.


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WISCONSIN FUNERAL DIRECTORS ASSOCIATION

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(608) 256-1757 | FAX: (608) 646-7631

office@wfda.info

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