Winnebago County Coroner's Office, area mortuary services partner up amid rising COVID-19 death toll

WINNEBAGO COUNTY, Ill. (WIFR) ----- As the nation grapples with a climbing death toll due to COVID-19, mortuary services in the Stateline prepare for the worst.

"When somebody passes away, their loved ones are going through what is possibly the toughest time in their life. And that is a service that I do not want to stop."

With the coronavirus pandemic impacting the Stateline, the Winnebago County Coroner's Office is ready to help those in need.

"We have prepared the best that we can. We have made sure that we had ample supply of PPEs, so everything from our gloves, our masks, our gowns. I wanted to make sure we had plenty of body bags, I wanted to make sure we had plenty of extra storage," said Winnebago County Coroner William Hintz.

At Honquest Family Funeral Homes, owner Timothy Honquest says not much has changed in the way his team works with the deceased.

"It's not done any different. We usually use a thing called universal precautions, so that means that we treat everybody like they have the disease," said Honquest.

However, with social distancing efforts, Honquest says working with the bereaved has.

"There's a lot of less hugging, there's a lot of, there's no handshaking, which is very odd for us because when you come to grieve, you're normally, you're going to hug and handshake and kiss. That has that has not been the case in these situations," said Honquest.

"Our office is still, first and foremost, taking care of everybody that passes away. Our policy has not changed. We are still in the office 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We are still doing our job," said Hintz.

Honquest says he recommends people review their end of life plans, partnering with funeral homes in advance to avoid any added difficulty when trying to celebrate their loved ones.