Do These 3 Photos Show Amish Breaking A Stay-at-Home Order?
People living in the Geauga County Amish community area have contacted Cleveland’s FOX8 news channel with reports of Amish “gathering for church and parties,” presumably violating the state’s stay-at-home order.
Ohio’s stay-at-home order, prohibiting gatherings above 10 people, was issued March 22, to last from March 23 to April 6. Last week it was extended to last until May 1.
Several have sent in photos of Amish to the station.
This first photo appears to be a group of people walking alongside a buggy.
The second photo shows what looks like a gathering of youth playing volleyball:
A third photo shows Amish people walking down the road:
A fourth photo aired by the station shows what looks to be a few Amish standing outside a drive-thru bank teller, presumably picking up some cash.
That photo seems irrelevant for reasons stated below, so I’m not going to post it here.
So are these three photos evidence of Amish violating the order?
To me the second photo is the only one which seems clear evidence of breaking the order. The first could be suggestive of people arriving to a gathering.
There are exceptions in the order for a range of activities including getting necessary supplies, “outdoor activity,” and taking care of others. Amish pictured in the first and third photos could arguably be doing a number of those things.
The fourth photo of Amish at the bank does not seem to fit this complaint, as getting money seems clearly within the “necessary supplies and services” exception. I would suspect it is the work of an overzealous “citizen informer.”
That doesn’t mean that residents haven’t witnessed or noticed signs suggesting large gatherings, however.
It should also be noted that many individual Amish families, with their large numbers of children, exceed 10 people in size.
However the order also states that “Nothing in this Order prohibits the gathering of members of a household or residence.” That’s the exception that presumably keeps Amish family dinners legal for now.
A bishop’s comments
Officials have been meeting with Amish leaders to inform them of the latest requirements.
The Geauga County Health Commissioner reported that an Amish bishop said that “five churches had closed,” and confusingly that “they are putting signs on other churches as well.”
Since Amish in this community don’t use physical church buildings, and like most Amish, they meet in members’ homes or outbuildings for Sunday service, that comment doesn’t make sense.
Perhaps he was speaking of other denominations’ churches. That’s all I can come up with. But if so, the comment was randomly inserted without any such context.
Also, another question – if only five churches “had closed” (which is also strange language to describe Amish congregations, but let’s leave that aside), that would still leave around 130 more church districts in this community whose status is unclear, at least as reported by the bishop.
Communication with the Geauga Amish
Are Amish here generally ignoring the state’s orders regarding gatherings and stay-at-home restrictions?
It’s a bit fuzzy what is going on here. It turns out officials have been meeting with Amish in this community to keep them informed, dating back to at least mid-March.
For instance, the second such meeting took place back on March 17, when medical representatives spoke with about 50 people from the Amish safety committee.
At that meeting the representatives recommended suspending church for two months at least, and keeping gatherings below 50:
It wasn’t the first they had heard about COVID-19, said the Amish safety committee member.
“We’d been hearing from drivers and customers and watching the newspapers,” he said in a phone conversation March 19. “We’re not back in the woods.”
Williams-Reid, a family medical doctor, and Muir, UH – Geauga’s liaison for the Amish community, gave their audience directions on how to cope with the new directives and keep their families safe.
“We’re trying our best to keep this from spreading,” Wengerd said.
Wengerd said most people at the meeting agreed if a family member becomes ill, the family should self-quarantine, but as of Thursday, church meetings would continue.
Meanwhile, the Amish schools have been closed and family members are taking on the responsibility of making sure the school-aged children keep up with their studies, he said.
If Amish families need to isolate, they can be sure friends and neighbors will help wherever they can.
“We’ll all pitch in. That’s our tradition,” Wengerd said.
Maybe there is disagreement, or simple laxity, within the community as to adhering to the stipulations of the order. The Geauga Amish community is comprised of two large affiliations, one more conservative than the other.
In any case, it appears that when it comes to gatherings, at least some Amish in this community have not been following the state government’s order. On the other hand, Amish schools in the county have been closed.
Sorry! They bother no one! They go to church, help their neighbors, do not have wild parties, and they are there when you need them! They stayed over a year when Hurricane Katrina wiped our MS! Where were you? Apparently not helping!
What you have stated is true for the most part. However, that does not excuse them from following the stay-at-home order. I go to church, help my neighbors, don’t have or go to wild parties and am there when needed. Does this excuse me from following the stay-at-home order? The Amish community is close knit and COVID-19 would spread very quickly. Come Friday I will have been staying at home except for essentials for 3 weeks. I would love to gather with our small group Bible study, join some friends for coffee/tea, maybe even a game of cornhole or croquet, but for now that is not possible. Don’t put them on a pedestal or above every other person God created. If you asked them they would also tell you not to put them on a pedestal or think them better than anyone else.
Stay At Home
Living in an Amish community and being a taxi driver I would say that no they are not staying at home. Yes, Amish schools, church and youth group are cancelled, however I saw plenty of buggies full of youth out and about on Sunday as they passed my house. That said though there was also allot of vehicle traffic too. I am sure most of them were not following the order in the state that I live in.
Buggies full of youth, very well could of been siblings from ONE family. They could of been going to their grandparents house taking food and supplies. Point is you have no knowledge about what and where and why they are in their buggy, or even getting out of said buggy, you didn’t stop and ask, you are just assuming. Which you could very well do to all those cars out an about. People going for a drive, which is allowed, you aren’t exposing anyone if you and your family are just driving around enjoying the beautiful spring weather. I know if you would stop and ask me what I was doing I’d be more then happy to tell you. I am going to pick up face masks for a nursing home who’s workers are using the same mask for 7+ days because they have no supplies.After I drive an hour+ to pick up these masks that some wonderful people made and donated I will be packing them and sending them from one corner of my state to the other. My husband is an essential worker. I am a triple threat high risk person, who is exposed every day when he comes home. My daughter is an RN on the front lines.I have multiple family and friends who also are front line medical workers. Instead of running around YOURSELVES breaking the order taking pictures of people who MIGHT be bending or breaking stay at home order, mind your business, see if you can help others on the front lines or their families.
This is a very difficult time for Everyone.They don’t have tv’s or computers.But,some do have phones in which,they should get an app of local Bee’s station’s..
My family has been driving Amish full-time for 15 years and know many Amish and how they live. Those buggies of youth I mentioned that I saw I knew a number of them and they are not from one family. Also, 95% of the time grandparents live in a dawdy house attached to ther main house or possibly in a granny flat on the property. Ther family they live with would most likely be the ones providing a meal. Trust me the number of buggies we saw weren’t all going to meet essential needs.
It sounds like you have a good handle on it Debbie. Just curious which general community do you drive for?
We cover Lancaster and Chester counties in Pennsylvania.The have definitely curb their activities, but just like in the “English” world there are those that push the boundaries. This weekend is Easter and even Easter services are cancelled. As far as I can tell with the ones we drive everyday it doesn’t sound like much will be going on on Easter Monday either. They want to follow as best they can the guidelines. They may not understand them as in depth as English do since they depend on short newspaper articles and drivers for most of their information.
Thanks for sharing that Debbie. Yes in a group of 30-40,000 people some will always push the boundaries pretty much no matter where you are. It does sound like the Lancaster community is one that is going along pretty well with the orders, guidelines, or whatever it is that is in place now in PA though.
In Holmes County, Ohio it has been mixed, which is what I would expect since that’s the most diverse of all Amish communities, essentially with the plainest to the most progressive represented.
In northern Indiana, after a decision to leave the choice up to individual churches, I believe it’s been mixed as well, but with more, perhaps most churches not holding service.
We drive in the Lancaster/Chester County community.
No one is above the law at this time
I know the Amish go to Walmart and other stores for food, etc. Who knows if they contact the virus and bring it back, perhaps to the elderly members of the family. I know some of the churches are meeting but not having lunch afterwards. Everyone should obey the laws.
I won’t be surprised if we see a story on COVID-19 showing up in an Amish community or communities in the next few days.
Breaking the rules
There’s a couple of issues here… The ‘snitch’ mentality. That has me very worried going forward.
The fact that the safety orders or recommendations change just about every week, if not every couple of days. Here we went from no gatherings over 250, then 100, then 50, then 25, then 10, and now it is less than 10 and you must supervise, provide hand hygiene options, make sure people use that and make sure they are staying six feet away from one another…now markets have put tape on the floor because people don’t actually realize how far ‘six feet’ away really is. And still OUR young people continue to gather because, as we all know, young people are immortal and nothing can hurt them.
Also, there’s been the mixed messages of ‘don’t gather in groups’, but ‘do go outside for exercise’. A lot of people, adults included this time, didn’t think that they had to maintain the distancing because they were outside; which led to people being on golf courses, tennis and basketball courts, soccer fields, hiking and biking trails, going to the beach, and even flocking to state and national parks which led to closures of many ‘public lands’. All of these pictures were taken outside, so maybe that’s the simple explanation. And the one of the group walking down the road? The disparity in height of the individuals certainly suggests a family group.
Yes, a couple of the photos may suggest that the regulations are not being strictly adhered to. But if the photographer drove around town would they find that everyone else was doing exactly as they were told?
I think we have to very carefully protect ourselves and our communities from this illness, but also from falling into the pit of needing an ‘Other’ to point out as being the root of our current problems.
Besides, let’s face it, the Amish live a healthier lifestyle than most of us. It’s not like they are going to gather in big groups, get seriously ill, and then stagger out of their own communities like a zombie hoard with the mindless intent of infecting ‘the Rest of US’.
Stay safe and healthy everyone.
Dale Ann Harsh I agree with what you said 100%. I immediately thought, “Why are folks snitching on them?” So bored we have to find fault with innocent people? I actually googled and can’t find any Amish yet who even have Covid-19. They’re unlikely to get it. But even if they do, they are very unlikely to spread it to outsiders, so it really isn’t anyone else’s business. Just my two cents.
Amish with Covid
You Googled it? I doubt it would be online. Amish in Lancaster County area have been diagnosed with Covid. You seem to think they would not get it. I’m not really sure why you think that. They have businesses that serve the English world. There a farmers markets that have many people walk through just in one day. They’re are Amish that have grocery stores that see well over 500 customers in a day with sty list half being English. They ride with English drivers, go to livestock sales and hay sales. The youth run around all over the place. They are not immune to this disease. Its inconceivable that people think Amish wouldn’t get it or pass if if they did.A could of weeks ago the Department of Health in either Iiinois or Indiana were trying to track down 38 families that were at Amish church because someone at church tested positive.
Ignoring COVID-19 orders
Ms. Harsh: How do you know they live a healthier lifestyle than the English? Have you ever been in an Amish home? I have. Several times. Hygiene is not a top priority for them. How can it be when they don’t have access to running water, showers, toilets, etc.? Not all Amish work outdoors, move around a lot on a regular basis or eat the best food. They are no different from the English, in that respect. They do business with the English on a daily basis. If COVID-19 doesn’t eventually make its way to the Amish, that will truly be a miracle!
“Hygiene is not a top priority for them.”
You paint a lot of people with one brush there.
Many, likely most Amish homes actually do have running water and regular bathrooms. The plainest churches do not.
Some do not eat good diets, and some are overweight. I would tend to agree with the general statement though, that all things considered, Amish do live a healthier lifestyle than the average American.
I expect we’ll hear about COVID-19 among the Amish pretty soon, if for no other reason that it will probably end up being quite widespread, even if asymptomatic or causing little harm in most people.
The higher-risk groups in Amish communities should be made aware of the specific danger to them, however. In these outreach efforts to different Amish communities, I hope that is being emphasized.
Eric: You might think that based on my comment, But, based on the Amish in my state, both in the lower northern part of the state, where I live, and downstate, where I used to spend time visiting my in-laws every summer, if they do have running water, they do not use it very often. Does that mean that I think all Amish are not very hygienic? No, it doesn’t. I have been to auctions where Amish would attend, I have been to the homes of several families; I work in a thrift store where most of the Amish women come on a weekly basis, I am being kind when I say my olfactory sense was not impressed. I realize that my comments make me appear to be anti-Amish, but, I’m not. I just don’t believe in romanticizing them or putting them on a pedestal anymore than I believe in putting any other Christian denomination on a pedestal. I know there are some Amish communities that have running water, indoor plumbing, etc.in fact, I have met one Amish family that is doing very well. It would appear that they have running water and a telephone. They have a beautiful log cabin-style home with solar panels. Most of the Amish I’ve become acquainted with are very nice people and I enjoy chatting with them. I’ve been in their homes. I’ve done business with them plenty of times. I’ve listened to one young woman cry about the fact that her stepfather had laid off her husband because he only wanted his sons working in his timber mill, and he couldn’t find mill work in any other mill. My husband and I felt so bad, we both kept trying to come up with ideas for him to try his hand at. He had no other skill besides mill work. We bought $50 worth of stuff from her that we didn’t need or want because we felt so bad for them. Another young man left his Amish family to marry an English girl. They have a child. His family has chosen to shun him and not meet their first grandchild. She is five years old. I have been told quite a few stories by different Amish women, and teens. Most don’t talk to Englishers, but, every once in a while, you will meet those who are willing to open up about their ways. To me, the Amish are like everyone else: mostly good, kind, and friendly, and most important to me, changing how they treat their animals. I judge a person based on his/her treatment of animals. Id don’t know that I agree their lifestyle is healthier than that of the Englishers. They do not appear to have morbid obesity in their communities as the English do, so I concede that they probably do live a healthier lifestyle!
Well, I would agree with not putting anyone on a pedestal. I don’t know which state you are in, but sounds like you are around a plainer group. I would probably say the plainer folks are understandably less hygienic simply due to much more limited access to hot running water. But many Amish homes have access to it and more regular showers, etc.
“Health” is an interesting question involving different factors. But using simple metrics I think based on overall activity levels, they likely come out ahead, perhaps well ahead on that front. There was a study in 2004 measuring average steps per day in an Amish cohort, it came out to around 14,000 for women and 18,000 for men. It looks like the US average is somewhere in the 3,000 – 5,000 per day range based on which study you look at. That also doesn’t really account for the physical nature of a lot of Amish work. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14707772
There are cases of overweight too in the Amish of course, but I think you are right about morbid obesity, at least it appears to be rarer than in the general population.
You make some good points there, Dale Ann. The snitch mentality when left to run rampant can be very detrimental to a society’s healthy functioning. Americans in general are a trusting people in comparison with many other countries, I think they are well above the mean in that category. It would be a shame to damage that.