'It's overwhelming': Bay Area funeral homes nearly triple capacity amid surge of COVID-19 deaths

SAN MATEO COUNTY, Calif. (KGO) -- Two of the Bay Area's largest funeral homes have nearly tripled their capacity in the last few weeks after experiencing the highest spike in COVID-related deaths since the onset of the pandemic.

"It's very concerning," said Dan Duggan of Duggan's Serra Mortuary in Daly City. "We've gone from 10 to over 30 COVID-related deaths in the last month."

Back in March, Duggan doubled the facility's storage to prepare for the surge.

RELATED: COVID: California funeral homes run out of space as pandemic rages

"Thank god we did," Duggan said. "During the first nine months we were wondering if it was totally necessary and it was definitely 100% necessary."

Even with the additional space, Duggan's capacity is already at 80%.

It's the busiest time the family-run business has seen in their more than 50 year history.

"We're just starting to see the Christmas holiday surge and I'm sure there's going to be an additional surge following New Year's," Duggan said.

I-TEAM: California doctor says hundreds of thousands of COVID-19 vaccines sitting in warehouses, potential of being wasted
EMBED More News Videos

A member of the state's COVID-19 vaccine advisory committee tells the ABC7 I-Team, hundreds of thousands of COVID-19 vaccines across the state are sitting in warehouses with the potential of being wasted.



Mr. Duggan is accommodating families with safe outdoor services where pews are spaced six feet apart. He's served entire families who tested positive for COVID after losing their loved one to the virus.

"This is much more dangerous at this stage than any other stage since March," Duggan said.
Robert Gordon, president of Cypress Lawn Funeral Home in Colma, agrees. The combined total capacity of his facility has spike to 80%.

"Last month, we doubled the number that we normally see," he said. "This month, we will do four to five times the number of services for families who've been affected by COVID-19."

In March, Gordon purchased two storage units that can accommodate an additional 100 bodies.

RELATED: 'Doses delayed': Nearly 900,000 COVID-19 vaccines stuck in transit across California

"Up until November we really didn't use them at all," Gordon said. "But, now we are starting to use both containers to help us through this time."

According to Gordon, several smaller funeral homes across the Bay Area have reached full capacity unable to accommodate families.

"We have been able to step in to help," said Gordon. "We are working our hardest."

For a better experience, click here to view the full map in a new window

CALCULATOR: Find out how many people may get a COVID-19 vaccine before you

If you have a question or comment about the coronavirus pandemic, submit yours via the form below or here.

Get the latest news, information and videos about the novel coronavirus pandemic here

RELATED STORIES & VIDEOS:
Copyright © 2021 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.