An Amish community in Pennsylvania may have became the first group in the United States to reach and achieve herd immunity from the coronavirus, a local health official says.
The administrator for Lancaster County’s New Holland Borough, which is known for its Amish and Mennonite communities, estimates that as many as 90 percent of the religious families have had at least one family member infected by the virus.
“So, you would think if COVID was as contagious as they say, it would go through like a tsunami; and it did,” said Allen Hoover, an administrator of the Parochial Medical Center, which caters to the religious community and has 33,000 patients.
The Amish and Mennonite groups initially complied with the stay-at-home orders at the beginning of the pandemic stopping schoolhouses and canceling church services. However by late April, they had resumed worship services, where they shared communion cups and holy kisses.
Not long after, the virus hit the religious group hard sources say.
“It was bad here in the spring; one patient right after another,” said Pam Cooper, a physician’s assistant at the Parochial Medical Center.
In late April and early May, the county’s positivity rate for COVID-19 tests exceeded 20 percent, according to nonprofit Covid Act Now.
It’s hard to know the exact numbers health official say because less than 10 percent of the patients consented to being tested for coronavirus.
The medial center saw on average nearly a dozen infections a day, or around 15 percent of the patients it serves daily, Hoover said.
While infections ebbed through the summer, before picking up again in the fall, Hoover said new cases are now far and few in between.
The center hasn’t had a patient visit with coronavirus symptoms in six weeks, Hoover stated.
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