Unattended deaths increase in Morgan County
Unattended deaths – deaths in which the body of the deceased is not found for days, weeks or in some cases months – have increased locally since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and shelter-in-place order, according to Morgan County coroner Jeff Chunn.
Chunn said his office normally sees two or three unattended deaths per month but recently saw seven cases in a two-week span.
“In these cases, the decedent was not found for 48-72 hours,” he said.
For that reason, “I’m urging people to continue to check on your friends and neighbors even during this pandemic,” Chunn added. “We have a lot of folks who are elderly, who are shut in and who don’t have family to check on them.”
Chunn said a daily phone call or a knock on someone’s door can go a long way.
Mike Swafford, spokesman with the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office, said it’s important now more than ever to check on friends and neighbors.
“We’re not interacting together right now, and our routines have been broken up,” he said. “Now there’s this gap that has been created.”
Swafford said social distancing recommendations can be adhered to while checking in on those who are most vulnerable.
“Our message is ‘Check on your neighbors,’” Swafford emphasized. “Check on the elderly lady down the street … You can still knock on the door and back away.”