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COVID-19 pandemic an “inflamed” and “largely ignored” topic for some in Geauga County — 88 Counties in 88 Days

How the local, close-knit Amish community is dealing with a pandemic that requires people to be apart.
Credit: WKYC

CHARDON, Ohio — This story is part of our continuing 88 Counties in 88 Days series.

It’s hard being apart. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, people have been using technology to help stay connected in this era of social distancing and quarantine. But for communities that don’t, or can’t, rely on technology, like Geauga County’s Amish population, it’s made things very difficult.

“The whole strength of this community is kind of forged at a single interaction at a time, which is tough to do even with masks on,” said Chester Kurtz from the Geauga Amish Historical Library. “We’re internet free. There’s no online services, there’s no social media. What’s Amish Zoom?”

Because of the close and analog nature of the community, Kurtz says, “COVID has proven to be a highly inflamed topic, thus it’s largely avoided.” Kurtz hypothesizes that incidence of the coronavirus among the Amish community has been higher than what’s been reported, because he says, “the Amish are not so prone to rush to the doctor when we’re feeling ill.” 

That’s led to a lot of people not wearing masks, Kurtz says, especially at community events. 

“The Amish are kind of half and half,” said one worker at the local Walmart. “When [the COVID-19 pandemic] first started, they were kind of wearing the masks, [but] something’s changed just recently.”

For some members of the community, they’re experiencing quarantine fatigue just like everybody else. One Amish woman we spoke with put it simply, saying, “I’m tired of hearing about COVID. I just want to go back to how it was before this all started.”

The video below is from our newscast on Oct. 8.