The Amish community in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, fared better than most at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, even though they never locked down or shuttered their churches.
In the latest episode of her show, “Full Measure,” investigative reporter Sharyl Attkison, who described the Amish as a “Christian group that emphasizes the virtuous over the superficial,” explained that, while cities around the U.S. implemented draconian measures amid the pandemic — forcing businesses to close, telling residents to stay home, and banning church gatherings — those in the Amish community never forsook their work or gathering for worship services.
Calvin Lapp, an Amish Mennonite in Lancaster, told Attkison there “are three things the Amish don’t like: and that’s government; they won’t get involved in government. They don’t like the public education system; they won’t send their children to education. And … they also don’t like the health system.”
“Those three things are all of what COVID is,” he said.
Lapp went on to explain the unconventional way his community responded to the burgeoning health crisis last spring. While most were isolating, avoiding any contact with others, the Amish in Lancaster held a worship service in May 2020, when they all took communion.
The Amish share a goblet of wine and all take turns drinking from it.
“Everybody,” Lapp said, contracted the virus.
“It’s a worse thing to quit working than dying,” he said, defending the community’s approach to COVID-19. “But to shut down and say that we can’t go to church, we can’t get together with family, we can’t see our old people in the hospital, we got to quit working … it’s going completely against everything that we believe.”
In March of this year — about one year after the pandemic began in earnest — the Associated Press reported that the Amish and Mennonite community in Lancaster reached herd immunity, with 90% of families having at least one member infected with COVID-19.
Steve Nolt, an expert on Amish culture and scholar at Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania, told Attkison there is “no evidence” to suggest there were any more deaths in the conservative religious community — whose members eschewed masking, physical distancing, and major lifestyle changes — “than in places that shut down tight.”
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