Covington Casket sees increase in production amid COVID-19
Published 3:35 pm Thursday, April 16, 2020
By: Kaitlin Holley
The Covington Casket Company of Andalusia is working harder than ever amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Covington County Casket Company owner Alan Williamson said he and his team have warehouses of caskets in some of the major hot spots infected with COVID-19.
“We manufacture about 35 caskets in just one day and that was before the pandemic,” Williamson said.
Most people know that Covington Casket has a warehouse for manufacturing in Andalusia, but that is just one of the four warehouses they have.
“We have 43 employees and our warehouses are stocked and full and kept the best that we can keep them,” William said. “The warehouses took the brunt of the orders so now we are just trying to keep the warehouses full now. We have warehouses in Hammond, Louisiana; Hattiesburg, Mississippi; and Albany, Georgia.”
Last week, Covington Casket Company saw caskets go a lot faster than usual.
“Even though the virus has been around for about four weeks we didn’t see the amount of death rate increasing on our end until last Monday,” Williamson said. “Then it was like flipping a light switch. It went crazy. Our warehouses are full and most of the business is going into New Orleans right now. New Orleans is considered a hot spot right now. We have a warehouse in Hammond, Louisiana which is only about 30 miles away and we keep a couple of hundred caskets down there. We have been able to dispatch out of there and now are just making sure we keep the Hammond warehouse full. We kind of have a game with a surplus.”
The Covington Casket team has all been taking safety precautions and making sure to follow safety rules.
“Our drivers are the main people and of course we are concerned with all of our team,” Williamson said. “Drivers are going to funeral homes that have the coronavirus and remains of the deceased. They have the masks to wear and we also provide them with gloves to wear, which they are supposed to change every time they leave a stop or a funeral home. Drivers also have hand sanitizer in all the Covington Casket vehicles. A Lot of cases and some of the really hot areas where there is a lot of death drivers and funeral home employees have no physical contact.
We have contact through the phone and call before we get there. They know that we are coming and how close we are and the funeral homes go ahead and put the buggies that the caskets will go on outside. That way the driver can put the caskets on the buggies without making any contact. Drivers then do the paperwork themselves and then get into their truck and leave.”
To show just how fast caskets are going, Williamson said a city had to add 10 deaths to their already 30 deaths within a day.
“A week ago I contacted a funeral home director down in New Orleans and they had 30 deaths in the funeral home that day,” Williamson said. “Then by the night they picked up 10 more deaths making it 40 deaths in just one day. There is another funeral home that’s outside of New Orleans that we call the country. He normally does about 8 to 10 cases a month of just death and he had 24 corona cases in a town about the size of Opp.”
In Louisiana, Williamson said it’s not a case of getting the virus, but the storage becoming an issue.
“In Louisiana, they have to have the caskets in the ground within 36 hours,” Williamson said. “I don’t think in Louisiana it’s the case that they are afraid to contract the virus. They are getting so inundated with remains that the funeral homes do not have adequate storage for that many deaths. The funeral homes have made changes with graveside and visitations as well. It’s out there and this stuff is no joke. I have seen it through the orders first hand what COVID-19 can do to places like Albany, Ga., and New Orleans.”