“We still take it very seriously.” COVID seen by funeral staff.

LOVINGTON, NM — Angie Guillen recalls the early days of COVID-19, when the new virus — then dubbed “The Coronavirus” — was just beginning to impact global supply chains.

“Before all the craziness,” she said, sitting in an embroidered chair in the lobby of the New Mexico funeral home where she works as a caregiver. “We went to Walmart and everything was empty. We couldn’t find water, we couldn’t find anything. So we came back the next day and there was nothing, the shelves were empty. Because of the virus. It’s a feeling I can’t explain.”

Then her place of work — the Kirby-Ratliff Funeral Home in Lovington, New Mexico — showed undeniable signs of the deadly virus. Corpses began to arrive. First one, then a few at a time, and then multiple arrivals not only from Lovington but from the rest of New Mexico and Texas.