CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Representative Kelly Alexander, a member of the North Carolina House of Representatives, owns a funeral home on Statesville Avenue outside of uptown Charlotte. The business, Alexander Funeral Home, has been in the lawmaker’s family for decades.
WBTV spoke to Alexander Tuesday about the impact the coronavirus pandemic has had on his business.
“It’s making it more complicated,” said Alexander. “We have to be simultaneously compassionate, but explain to our families what the new regulations are, how this new environment has changed.”
There is now hand sanitizer in the hallway and fliers posted around the building alerting employees and visitors to the threat of COVID-19. Alexander said he has already been limiting the number of people allowed to gather in the building.
According to the latest order issued by Mecklenburg County, funeral services should no longer have more than 10 people present. The order states that, ‘all public and private gatherings of more than 10 people are prohibited, except for limited purposes permitted by this proclamation’. At a Tuesday afternoon meeting Mecklenburg County leaders discussed the new order as it pertains to funerals.
“Funerals would need to be 10 (people) or less the way this is written. Funeral homes are exempt, but funerals would have to be 10 (people) or less,” county manager Dena Diorio told the Mecklenburg County commissioners Tuesday.
Alexander said he has already been warning customers about new funeral home restrictions that are in place because of the pandemic.
“So far the folks that I’ve talked to have been willing to adapt and come in realizing things are different,” said Alexander.
Dion Black, a Charlotte resident, said his father, Melvin Chaney, will have a funeral service at Alexander Funeral Home next Monday. He said his father was the head of custodial affairs at Kennedy Middle School and also coached the football and track and field teams. Black said hundreds of people would probably attend his father’s service if it weren’t for the pandemic.
“With this virus, it sucks that he’s not gonna be able to be honored the way that he should,” said Black in a phone interview Tuesday. “It just sucks that everyone is not gonna be able to sit there and fill the room with that joy and those awesome stories of my father.”
Fortunately for grieving families, Alexander said his funeral home is planning to start live streaming funeral services so more people can watch the services.
“It’s fitting in with how we can use technology and compassion and compliance with the order all to work together to allow a family to still have an appropriate grieving experience,” said Alexander.
He said another way for families to allow several people to continue partaking in funeral services is to host a quiet hour where loved ones can pay their respects one group at a time. This scenario avoids a large gathering of people clustered together at one time.