March 25, 2020

How Do Health Departments Communicate With Amish Communities During the Coronavirus Pandemic?

Original story from   WVPE-FM

Article origination WVPE-FM
FILE PHOTO: Barbara Brosher/WFIU-WTIU

FILE PHOTO: Barbara Brosher/WFIU-WTIU

Health Departments across the country are working hard to get information about the coronavirus out to people to help slow the spread of the disease. But what if all the modern methods of communication, from the internet down to phone and radio aren’t an option?

There’s a sizable community of Amish people in Elkhart County. The County Health Department does have ways to communicate with them even during normal times. 

“We’ve always had great communication with the Amish Bishops” said Melanie Sizemore, public information officer for the Elkhart County Health Department. She said they’re also working with methods they’ve never used before.“We are also in the process of doing some advertising in their newspapers, like the Die Blatt.”

Sizemore said with the Amish, like with any other population, getting the information out is just part of the task of health departments. 

“For the most part we are getting the information out and just like the whole population, whether they choose to follow it is their decision. We are hoping and we are educating them to follow it and we’re relying a lot on the Bishops to get that down in their districts.”

Sizemore said anyone who communicates regularly with people in the Amish Community and can pass on the information about COVID-19 can also be helpful. The basic message is stay home and wash your hands.

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