Spike in Unattended Deaths as COVID-19 Sweeps Across the U.S.

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As of today, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports 104,000 people in the U.S. have died from coronavirus (COVID-19). Some of the most impacted areas include: New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts. What many people may not realize is that there are probably even more deaths that haven’t  been discovered yet; residents in the New York, Boston, and Detroit area have observed an increase in home deaths. Authorities in Detroit are responding to almost four times the number of unattended deaths than usual, while New York is recording nearly 200 home deaths a day.

According to ProPublica

“Experts say it’s possible that some of the jump in at-home death stems from people infected by the virus who either didn’t seek treatment or did but were instructed to shelter in place, and that the undercount is exacerbated by lack of comprehensive testing. It’s also possible that the increase in at-home deaths reflects people dying from other ailments like heart attacks because they couldn’t get to a hospital or refused to go, fearful they’d contract COVID-19.”

The Harris County, Texas Medical Examiner states that ¼ of their COVID-19 deaths occurred at home. In addition, Houston Public Media reports that, “Data shared by the Office of the Medical Examiner shows 86 at-home death cases in the first two weeks of April. That’s compared to just 52 deaths in the same time period a year ago — an increase of 65%.’”

What is an Unattended Death?

The phrase unattended death refers to a death in which the body is not found for days, weeks, or in some cases, months and typically occurs at home (but not always).  Unattended deaths happen most commonly with the elderly, especially if they reside alone and do not have family or friends that check on them regularly. In rarer cases, an unattended death may occur after a suicide or homicide.

What Do You Do If You Find a Dead Body?

  • Check for any hazards in the surrounding environment, including falling items, dangerous chemicals, road traffic, wild animals, or even other people.
  • Once you’re sure the area is safe, call 911. If they appear to be recently deceased, then be prepared to check their vital signs or even administer CPR. An unconscious or severely injured person can be mistaken for a deceased, but it might be possible to save their life with quick intervention.
  • If you are unable to provide aid, you should avoid disturbing the area. Leave the body alone and remain nearby until authorities arrive.
  • Be prepared to cooperate with police and answer their questions. 
  • If the body was in a public area, then you’ll soon be free to go and law enforcement will handle the rest. If it was on your property, you may be responsible for the cleanup. This process can be potentially stressful and may expose you to biohazards such as bloodborne pathogens. Professional death cleanup services exist to perform this task for you.  

Read, ‘What to Do When Someone Dies at Home.

Rapid Response Commercial Disinfection Services

Aftermath Services provides unattended death cleanup and coronavirus cleanup services to businesses across the U.S. Our professional remediation technicians quickly and safely clean, disinfects and deodorize impacted areas to help families and businesses move past the tragedy of unexpected loss. Contact us today for more information on our COVID-19 and unattended death remediation process. Our dispatch centers are located nationwide so they can be to you within a few hours of your call.

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