Editor’s Note: The Answering Service for Directors is a dedicated sponsor of The Leader.
ASD recently published data revealing how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted funeral home death calls over time. Our company handles incoming telephone calls for more than 8,500 funeral homes across the United States — approximately 45 percent of all funeral homes in the country.
On average, funeral professionals call forward their phone lines to ASD 16 hours a day on weekdays. On Saturdays and Sundays that number is even higher. When you combine this with our company’s 45 percent market share, ASD statistics represent 30 percent of all deaths in the United States. There are some deviations, like major holidays when clients forward their phones all 24 hours…and then there is COVID-19.
ASD’s daily statistical information gives our company unique insight into how this novel coronavirus has impacted the national fatality rate. Our most recent data offers reason to be cautiously optimistic the worst has passed. ASD’s owners wanted to make this data widely available because they believe it provides a reassuring picture of how the death rate in the United States is beginning to normalize. There has been a great deal of interest in our statistical information in recent weeks. So, we plan to keep the graph below updated every day with our latest figures.
This graphic representation shows the change in the number of deaths calls handled each day by our company since before Thanksgiving. You can see the visible spikes that occurred on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. Other than those days, the data shows very little change in the percentage of death calls handled day to day until mid-March.
After March 19, the number of death calls began to multiply considerably, finally reaching a peak on Easter weekend. During the peak days of the pandemic, many families in New York City were forced to call multiple funeral homes to find one that could take care of their loved one. When reviewing their call numbers, ASD excluded any death call that was placed to multiple firms by analyzing Caller ID information. This provides a clearer picture of how funeral home call statistics have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since Easter weekend, ASD has recorded a sizeable drop in the number of deaths calls handled by our company. You can see that during the peak of the pandemic, ASD was handling more than 70% more death calls than average (about 1,000 additional death calls each day). This percentage then fell to about 40% more death calls than our average (about 650 additional death calls each day) and hovered here for several days before decreasing again. Most recently, ASD’s statistics found that our Call Specialists are now handling about 20% more death calls than average (about 400 more death calls each day). Keep in mind, the typical range can fluctuate 10% in either direction. For example, on May 10th, the numbers are only 8% above our typical range. While the number is still slightly elevated, it has deceased considerably. We hope to see this pattern continue.
This graph displays the average number of death calls ASD handled each day of the week before the COVID-19 pandemic. On average, we handle more death calls on the weekends because more funeral homes have their phone lines forwarded over to our answering service.
This above graph displays ASD’s total call volume from week to week. If you look at the weeks since the pandemic began, you can see that there is only about a 10 percent increase in actual call volume compared to normal time frames. However, ASD was very much impacted during this time because the increased call volume is almost entirely new deaths from COVID-19. As we’ve said often to our staff throughout the past few weeks, it’s not the number of calls, it is the attention these calls entail. First Calls require our Call Specialists to spend more time speaking to callers and gathering information on behalf of the funeral home.
In other models and graphical representations, the current coronavirus fatality rate has been difficult to determine due to widespread delays in the issuance of death certificates. This has led many to question how much and how quickly the number of COVID-19 related deaths are decreasing. ASD’s independent data is based solely upon the change in the number of incoming funeral home phone calls our company handles on a day to day basis. By comparing our current numbers to our pre-COVID-19 statistics, we can provide a detailed assessment of how this coronavirus is impacting the national fatality rate over time
“We find it incredibly encouraging to see our death call numbers approaching pre-COVID-19 levels,” says ASD Vice President and Family-Member Owner, Kevin Czachor. “I believe these numbers provide an early indicator that the number of deaths attributed to the virus are in decline.”