West Memphis issues warning to funeral-goers after small outbreak at a funeral in a nearby city

WATCH: West Memphis issues warning to funeral-goers after small outbreak at a funeral in a nearby city

WEST MEMPHIS, Ark. — Officials in West Memphis said a large funeral late last month in the town of Earle led to five people infected with COVID-19.

That has leaders in West Memphis concerned about large gatherings in their city.

The mayor has put a new mandate in place to prevent the spread of the virus at other funerals.

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That mandate went into effect Tuesday.

The mandate means if you’re not a licensed funeral home with the city of West Memphis, you cannot come to the city to do business.

This stems from what the mayor said happened in neighboring Earle and the large funeral gathering city leaders witnessed in West Memphis over the weekend.

“You don’t come to a funeral just to set up a funeral the next week, and this is how this virus is taking lives right now,” said West Memphis Mayor Marco McClendon.

He said the five coronavirus cases that stemmed from a funeral in Earle, Arkansas, should serve as a wakeup call to communities across the Mid-South.

“They had the funeral out there, where they had five confirmed cases that was confirmed by a local health department that they feel they contracted it from being at that funeral," he said.

There is still no word on which funeral home or church was involved or who they may have contracted the virus from.

“I don’t think it had anything to do with the body," he said. "I think with the individuals within the church that has it, and one of the things that scared me most as mayor if five people contracted it, that’s five people that wasn’t tested that didn’t know they have it.”

That’s why McClendon met with licensed funeral directors in West Memphis Tuesday.

Funeral directors are now mandated to comply with graveside services and avoid funerals at churches.

McClendon said over the weekend, the city received a call about a funeral at a West Memphis church with nearly 200 people.

He said the funeral home that provided services was in Memphis.

“We have to use common sense in these times right now," he said.

You can still come to the funeral home but you need to keep it at 10 people.

McClendon said his meeting with funeral directors was successful and they agreed to comply.