How Risky Is Going To A Funeral?

In our series "What's the Risk?" experts weigh in on what risks different scenarios pose for transmitting COVID-19.
Posted at 11:12 AM, May 31, 2020

When it comes to getting sick with COVID-19, you might be thinking about this, and we have too. Lizz Mathews asked: 

“What's the risk of getting COVID-19 from going to a funeral right now?”

We asked the experts: Katie Cary, vice president of infection prevention for HCA Continental Division, and Dr. Nipunie Rajapakse, a Pediatric Infectious Diseases Physician at the Mayo Clinic.

Their take: Contracting COVID-19 from going to a funeral is medium risk. 

"We have unfortunately seen some outbreaks occur by funeral attendants during this outbreak as well. The risk of getting COVID 19 from going to a funeral depends on a few factors, including where in the country you are. There's varying risks in different areas. And probably the second biggest factor is how many people are at the funeral," Rajapakse said.

"It would be the same for any gathering of people. So of course, it would be higher risk if you were with someone that was sick with COVID and you were within six feet. And you were not protected in any way. But as long as you're maintaining social distancing, wearing a mask, if that is what is required in the area, and of course, washing your hands, that will continue to protect you," Cary said.

"There is risks of acquiring infection from someone who has passed away from COVID-19. So we would recommend against obviously coming in direct contact with the body if that were the case, if the cause of death was unknown. It's possible it could have been related to COVID-19. So that would be another situation where it would be recommended to avoid coming in contact," Rajapakse said.

If you have a question about your risk, send us a video to You can see answers to other questions here