Some Amish living in the Central Maine town of Unity were willing to tell a reporter, Hannah Yechivi, how they are coping with the coronavirus pandemic. According to her news report on May 26, they are mostly following the orders from the state without too much disruption in their lives.
There are about 20 Amish homes in Unity, which is in rural Central Maine. It is on one of the alternative routes from the cities of Waterville and Augusta up to Bangor and Orono. The Amish she spoke with emphasized that they are following the orders of the governor.
Caleb Stoll, the owner of a dairy farm in town, said that they shut down their school. His brother, Abner Stoll, added that they were not allowed to go shopping in stores outside their community. Furthermore, Amish businesses that remained open have tried to limit their contacts.
They decided to spread out their members by holding two different worship services on Sundays in two different places. They also stopped having meals together after their services. And for three or four weeks they did not hold any services at all.
The Stoll brothers expressed the importance of respecting others in their town. They ended the quarantine period on May 1 but they still abide by the state’s guidelines. “We were very concerned about being respectful, both to the mandate and to our neighbors who were concerned,” Caleb said.
The Amish in Unity keep in touch with COVID-19 developments by reading newspapers, through word of mouth with neighbors, and by calling a phone number to get updates. Abner said that the Amish are still doing well, largely because they don’t engage in frivolous pursuits and because they work hard.
If a vaccine is developed, Caleb told the reporter, it would be up to individual Amish families to decide whether to get vaccinated. They are very careful to give the impression that they are being cooperative about halting the spread of the virus.
But they are not accepting the stimulus checks issued by the U.S. government. They simply return checks that they receive. Although the Amish pay their income taxes, they do not accept any aid from the government—part of their belief in maintaining their independence.