The Amish Are Getting Drive-Thru COVID-19 Testing For Horse and Buggy
Weird Al Yankovic, the god of musical parody, once sang about living in an Amish paradise. The sad truth is even blessed pastoralism can’t protect the Amish from coronavirus. The global pandemic hasn’t spared these luxuriously bearded and traditional people. Drive-thru COVID-19 testing is finally starting in the U.S., despite months of delays. But what about those without a horseless carriage?
Luckily, the Amish aren’t alone. The Central Pennsylvania Clinic is working hard to make rapid testing available to all its patients. However people get around, the whole community is pitching in. You know, like a good old fashioned barn raising. The clinic even established ride-thru testing to help this unique religious sect stay safe. We explain who the Amish are and how this unique but vital community response to COVID-19 came about.
Cover Photo: 2windspa (Getty Images)
Who are the Amish?
The Amish are a religious sect founded in 1693 by Jakob Ammann, when the beard was almost as in as it was in Brooklyn circa 2011. In the late 1800s, a split in the sect led to the emergence of the Old Order Amish, who reject much of modern life and are who people generally mean when they refer to the Amish.
The Pennsylvania Dutch
The Amish migrated to Pennsylvania from Europe in the early 1800s seeking religious freedom and land. Many of them still speak a unique variant of what is now known as Pennsylvania German or Pennsylvania Dutch, much like Dwight Shrute from The Office.
The Outbreak Affects Everyone
Despite their relative isolation and simple way of life, the Amish too have been impacted by the rapid spread of COVID-19. Unfortunately, accessing healthcare can be tricky for these old-fashioned folks, especially during a pandemic.
Drive-thru testing emerged as a critical way to fight COVID-19. While it’s an invaluable technique, how could those limited to horse-powered vehicles access it?
The Good Doctor
The Central Pennsylvania Clinic serves many Amish people, so it’s used to the unique challenges posed by the group’s aversion to tech. The clinic’s founder — Dr. D. Holmes Morton — wanted to make sure his horse-drawn patients were getting access to COVID-19 tests.
Rural Doesn’t Mean Slow
Dr. Morton teamed up with Professor Regina Lamendella, who teaches at the nearby Juniata College. According to Vice, together they can test up to 300 patients a day and turn around the results in 24 hours.
How to Test?
Now with rapid testing established, it was on to the next hurdle. How could they safely obtain samples from their Amish patients?
Buggies and Bugs
Since the Central Pennsylvania Clinic knows the Amish, it decided to set up a way for their patients to get ride-thru testing safe in their wagons. Blending this old-school system with highly advanced DNA sequencers, the clinic is now helping protect all their patients, including the Plain community, as the Amish call themselves.
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