Public Advocate Jumaane Williams is calling on the state government to amend restrictions which make it difficult for grieving families to claim their deceased loved ones who have died in the COVID-19 pandemic.

This follows concerns that the limited capacity of hospitals and morgues, and the inability to meet the rapid influx of COVID-19 fatalities, has made it increasingly difficult for families to hold individual burials.

In a letter to New York State Health Commissioner Howard Zucker on Thursday, the Public Advocate requested that Section 4144 of New York State Law, requiring that all bodies be removed by a licensed funeral director, be temporarily exempted or amended to allow any paid employee of a funeral home to perform body removal. This, he argues, would vastly increase funeral homes’ capacity to empty the city’s overcrowded hospitals and morgues.