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Funerals forced to go online amid coronavirus pandemic

It’s the final nail in the coffin.

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An increasing number of mourners are choosing to skip paying their respects to the dead in person amid the coronavirus pandemic, instead opting to participate in virtual send-offs, funeral directors told The Post.

“It’s a terrifying time,’’ said Queens funeral director Irene Elcock. “We have to turn around and think about keeping everyone safe.’’

While New York state says funerals can still be held with “immediate family’’ attending — even after Sunday’s 8 p.m. ban on all “non-essential’’ gatherings — it is not specific on the number of people allowed.

Funeral homes “should postpone services when possible,’’ according to an edict from Gov. Cuomo’s office. Otherwise, they “should limit the size of any services or gatherings to as few participants as possible (e.g. immediate family.”

Elcock said her funeral home is allowing up to 10 people if a family chooses to hold a service offline, which is in keeping with the CDC’s recommended guideline for gatherings.

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She said her Elcock Funeral Home held its first live-streamed service last week, and it drew about 15 people on-site — and many more virtually.

Elcock said one reason her mortuary is still holding in-person services is only because “the ability to see the person and know they are dead is different than trying to convince yourself they are dead.”

Still, “We might put extra measures in place and put netting over the casket to make sure people don’t touch the body and just to get some distance, because you just don’t know,’’ she said.

Funeral director Jonathan Green of Fairfield, Conn., said the situation may get to the point where even rabbis at his services stay home.

The religious are currently presiding over services in person, even if it is a virtual funeral.

Green said some rabbis are particularly worried because they are home with their children and concerned about infecting their families.

Of the recent live-streamed services from his Abraham L. Green and Son Funeral Home, the funeral director said, “I think it’s a comfort and stress relief for the families who lost someone who don’t have to worry about how to join if they have restrictions or health concerns.

“Services are happening,’’ Green said. “They’re just a little bit different right now.’’

But the working stiffs who handle the bodies can’t seem to escape worry.

“We were told how to protect ourselves, but we have not been given anything necessarily concrete on how long that virus lasts on the host,’’ Elcock said, noting that workers wear masks and gloves.

The CDC only says that “most often,’’ the virus is transmitted by coughing or sneezing and notes that this transmission isn’t a concern when handling remains.

But “much is unknown about COVID-19,’’ its Web site says.

“Some cemeteries are not letting people out of cars, or people have to wait for grave workers to complete their work, before they can visit,’’ Elcock said amid concerns of the spread.

“Everyone has a family,’’ she said.

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