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Emergency order limits the length of time to handle bodies

Posted at 9:30 PM, May 04, 2020

LANSING, Mich. — Director of the Department of Health and Human Services Robert Gordon issued and emergency order Monday shortening the time hospitals and funeral directors can work with people to make arrangements for the deceased.

In a statement, Gorden said the coronavirus has placed a burden on hospitals and funeral homes.

“We need to alleviate this burden and ensure the safe, proper and respectful handling of Michiganders’ remains," Gordon said.

The MDHHS said that hospitals and funeral directors have 24 hours to find the person with authority over the body. Once that person has been reached, they have 48 hours from the time of death to make arrangements.

If no one can be found to make those arrangements, the county medical examiner will take over. If a decision isn't made in that 48-hour time frame, that person forfeits the right to make those decisions.

The order also loosens restrictions for funeral directors and medical examiners authorizing embalming, allowing them to store bodies at temporary facilities.