An elderly Amish man with COVID-19 has died in LaGrange County, Indiana. This is the first Amish death associated with coronavirus that I have seen publicly confirmed. Like many of the disease’s victims, this man had other health conditions. From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette:
LaGrange County Commissioner Larry Miller said the county’s one death was an 80-year-old Amish man with underlying health conditions. He said northeast Indiana has a safety committee for the Amish community and LaGrange County has a separate steering committee of Amish to try to deal with issues across the wide number of churches.
“I keep in contact with the bishops and the safety committee,” Miller said. “I get questions daily and asking for updates so they can spread the word. Word travels very, very fast in the Amish.”
Word of an Amishman’s passing connected with COVID-19 had been out there for about a week, but this is the first public report I’ve seen confirming it.
Condolences to this man’s family.
This is the Amish community which at least initially decided to move forward with each church district deciding whether to hold church services, as reported in a story back on March 22.
Later information from one of our readers in that community suggested that most churches were in fact not meeting. LaGrange County Commissioner Larry Miller also states in this report that “Church is a big deal in the Amish community and they are not having church.”
I have not seen any other public reports of Amish deaths associated with COVID-19.
Other Amish cases?
There are some unconfirmed reports of cases of COVID-19 in other Amish communities. Its appearance among the Amish was not unexpected, given how contagious this virus is supposed to be.
Adams County, Indiana is mentioned as one possibility in this same report, where test results of two cases are awaited. Health Officer Dr. Michael Ainsworth provides an update on mitigation efforts in his county:
So far, the Adams County Health Department has sent two letters to all the bishops and the churches with guidance on schools, hand-washing, gatherings and state orders.
Ainsworth said sheriff’s officers initially had to break up a few school and church gatherings – providing them with education on why it wasn’t appropriate. But since then there have been good feedback and cooperation from the Amish community.
“I don’t think they are a whole lot unlike us English. Twenty percent do whatever they want, and the remainder are receptive and change their behavior,” he said.
I hadn’t seen any reports on this area until this one. Adams County is home to the fifth-largest Amish settlement (about 10,000 people).