9:32 a.m., ROCK ISLAND — From a glossy wooden table where he meets with families about funeral arrangements, David Ven Huizen picks up two stapled-together sheets of paper with the names of 18 families his funeral home currently is serving among its four locations.
Overall, 18 is not an unprecedented number, but it's right up there. Some of the deaths are COVID-19 related. This afternoon, he will direct a graveside service and, at any moment, the phone could ring with another death.
But right now, Ven Huizen, president and owner of the Wheelan-Pressly Funeral Home & Crematory, Inc., Rock Island, is mostly waiting.
His business has changed radically since March.
First, visitations were essentially canceled because a state mandate limited room capacity to 10 people. That number bounced around according to virus positivity rate, going to 50, then 25 and now back to 10.
Ven Huizen set up drive-through visitations and, in some cases, rented a tents for the parking lot and portable heaters.
He also activated a camera-sound-computer system that allows him to live-stream services anywhere in the world for people who can't attend. It's web broadcasting, and he had to get a license from the Federal Communication Commission.
As Joe Perez, vice president of the funeral home says: "Everybody's just striving to try to find a way to get through a loss."