The headquarters of the Guerra and Gutierrez and Continental Funeral home chains are just several blocks away, on Beverly Boulevard, in the heart of Los Angeles’s Covid-19 death calamity.
They are in Montebello, short hearse rides from hospitals under siege from the pandemic — with the massive Los Angeles County USC Medical Center, Adventist Health White Memorial and Beverly Hospital to name just three on a horrifying long list.
Owner Richard Gutierrez told CNN before the pandemic he would handle 28 or so memorial services at his six mortuaries in a day, with the main cause of death being cardiac arrest.
Now says he’s laying to rest an average of 56 people a day, 70 percent of them victims of the virus.
When asked about claims that the virus is fake, Gutierrez said: “Are you telling me that close to 400,000, people that have died is fake news? Try telling that to families that have just lost those people.
Try telling that to all the people in the world that have lost somebody. No, this is not fake. This is real. And it’s time that you either grow up and face facts or take your blinders off.”
LA County facing grim surge: The number of people dying of Covid-19 in Los Angeles County in a day is now equivalent to the number of homicide deaths the city saw in an entire year, Mayor Eric Garcetti said Thursday.
Los Angeles County reported 318 deaths on Friday, the most ever in a single day. Nearly 12,000 L.A. County residents have died from the virus in the past year.
Medical experts say the the expected Covid-19 surge after the holidays has yet to arrive — and ICU units in the area are already filled.
Funeral homes are overrun: From Beverly Boulevard, clusters of family and friends, most Latino, dressed in black, can be seen gathering outside the overrun mortuaries.
But the mortuaries say they are delaying or turning away dozens of grieving customers a day.
Outside Continental Mortuary, owner Magda Maldonado complained of stress shredding her insides as she stood in front of a freezer trailer she bought just two weeks ago to currently store dozens and dozens of bodies.
The trailer is just feet from a shipping container, filled with more decedents, as they call them, in the funeral business.
“I am really really busy. I’m overwhelmed, I am with anxiety disorder now because of this,” Maldonado told CNN.
“I’ve been medicated for that. And it’s really hard to continue working like that, my employees are overwhelmed and tired, and also they’re getting sick, their families are getting sick in the situation that I’ve never thought I was gonna go through,” she added.
When asked if she would soon have to tell families that she didn’t have room for bodies, Maldonado said: “that is really creating a stress for me, because I see all the calls that are going out and I’m not able to help those families.”