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Centre appproves contracts with funeral home

Facility would handle COVID-19 deaths

BELLEFONTE — Although there haven’t been any coronavirus-related deaths in the county, Centre County Government is bracing for the worst.

On Tuesday, the Board of Commissioners approved a pair of contracts. One with Wetzler Funeral Service, Inc., in Bellefonte and another with Dean K. Wetzler Funeral Home in Milesburg.

“The reason for the contracts is that the coroner (Scott Sayers) has shared with us that he is not permitted to take any deceased bodies with any suspect of COVID-19 exposure into the Mount Nittany Medical Center morgue to hold while testing is being done,” said county administrator Margaret Gray.

Gray said that both Wetzler Funeral Homes have refrigeration units.

“(They) are willing to hold the bodies for the coroner’s office,” Gray said.

The county would pay the funeral homes $100 per day that the refrigeration units are being used to hold bodies.

“We first want to thank both of the entities — family-run and operated homes here in our community. The coroner has a great relationship with all of our funeral home directors across the county. He does a great job every day,” said chair Michael Pipe. “I understand where Mount Nittany is coming from. In the same realm, we need to compensate these funeral homes for their abilities to do this.”

Pipe said that the contract is “pretty basic.”

“This puts us in a good position,” he said.

In other business, the commissioners:

— Recently launched a new website for information, resources and updates related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Visit www.centrecountypa.gov/covid-19 for updates on Centre County Government operations and services. In addition, there are multiple resources for housing, food, mental health, transportation and health care. Information for assistance for small businesses is available as well. Prominently displayed on the website are vital 24/7 hotlines for information/referral and mental health crisis services.

— Approved a submission of a grant application to the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD) for expansion of the current body worn camera program. The estimated expense in year one is $14,400 and year two is $4,032 for an estimated project total of $18,432. If awarded, the grant will provide up to 50 percent reimbursement for the period of July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2022.

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