S.D. lawmaker: Funeral homes must know when deaths happened from communicable diseases

Capitol News Bureau

Funeral director Steven Correa wears gloves as he moves the casket of Gilberto Arreguin Camacho, 58, in preparation for burial following his death due to Covid-19 at Continental Funeral Home on New Year’s Eve, December 31, 2020 in East Los Angeles, California. – Gilberto Arreguin Camacho spent over three weeks in the hospital before his death, according to his son. “He had so much love in his heart for his family,” his son Nestor Arreguin said. “He always had advice for you when you needed it. He was a really hard working man. He worked his whole life. Coming home late, working so hard to provide for his family. Im going to try and follow his legacy.” Arreguin worked as an automobile painter, leaving behind a legacy of children and grandchildren. Family members streamed part of the service for relatives in Mexico who were unable to travel due to pandemic restrictions. (Photo by Patrick T. Fallon / AFP) (Photo by PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images)

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — Legislation advanced Friday that would require South Dakota health care facilities tell funeral directors when people have died of communicable diseases, such as COVID-19.

The state House of Representatives could vote on House Bill 1060 as early as Tuesday, January 26. If House members approve, the legislation would move to the Senate for further consideration.

Through Friday, 1,684 South Dakotans were dead from COVID-19, according to the state Department of Health.

The House Judiciary Committee held a hearing Friday morning on requiring the notices.

“A number of funeral home directors came to me,” the legislation’s prime sponsor, Representative Charlie Hoffman, a rancher and forage farmer from the Eureka area, told the panel.

The goal is simply that health care staff inform funeral staff. “There’s no penalty, there’s no misdemeanor if they don’t,” Hoffman acknowledged.

Senator Lee Schoenbeck, a Watertown Republican and lawyer, is lead sponsor in the other chamber.

No one testified against it Friday. Several lobbyists supported it.

One was Jason Glodt, representing the South Dakota Funeral Directors Association

“They do not have a lot of employees. They have been working extreme hours for the better part of a year now,” Glodt said.

South Dakota has 93 licensed funeral homes.

Another was former legislator Tim Rave, executive director for the South Dakota Association of Healthcare Organizations.

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