‘This is where God has placed us’: Baseball Hall of Famer’s funeral home swamped with COVID deaths

U.S. & World

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. (WGN) — Baseball Hall of Famer Andre Dawson moonlights in retirement as a funeral home owner in Florida. He says COVID-19 has never been this bad.

Andre Dawson turned in his Cubs uniform for a dark, well-pressed suit years ago. When the pandemic hit in March 2020, his crew, which includes his family, were keeping up with the demand. But this summer, the tide turned when the delta variant took its toll on the sunshine state.

“It’s been pretty touch and go, we put in a lot of long hours, lot of late hours,” Dawson said. “The last three weeks, we have had about 25 total new cases and I think we had 40 last year.”

Of those 25 cases, 20 of them were COVID-19-related deaths. Paradise Memorial Funeral Home has yet to turn away any family in mourning, but Dawson worries it could happen. He and his team have conducted six funerals every Saturday for the past three weeks.

Dawson said his wife Vanessa is showing signs of stress.

“She said to me just last evening, ‘This is the time we are supposed to be enjoying this part of our lives together,'” Dawson said. “I said, ‘I know, just remember now this is where God has placed us at this time.'”

Dawson doesn’t want to overwork his wife or his funeral director. But he said funeral homes are swamped, crematoriums are backed up, and even locating a casket can prove challenging.

But like a Hall of Famer, Andre Dawson is staying focused on working hard through it all. His team in Miami is reminding him about the importance of the work he does for a community he cares about.

“When the telephone rings, we should continue to smile because it’s still another opportunity for us to do a service in the community,” he said.

Dawson’s message to anyone who will listen is simple.

“Please, please do get vaccinated,” he said. “Because this thing is real.”

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