180 - The Great Amish Pandemic Sewing Frolic

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On Sunday, December 19, 2021, The Cleveland Clinic and five other major health care institutions in Northeastern Ohio took out a full page ad in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the largest newspaper in the region. Simple and stark, the page was blank, save for the word—HELP—written in bold black letters.

Today the health care system of the region is nearing its breaking point with over 1700 hundred healthcare givers in the area out either with COVID-19 and its variants or in quarantine from having been exposed. Ohio is one of six states accounting for more than half of the nations’ recent COVID hospitalizations. Over 55% of Ohioans are unvaccinated and it is mostly unvaccinated people filling the hospitals there.

In the first year of the pandemic we presented the story The Great Amish Pandemic Sewing Frolic, centered in this same part of Ohio. When we saw the word HELP we thought it was time to reprise this story and shine a light on a time in the pandemic when people pulled together to help keep one another safe.

The story begins In April 2020. The pandemic is roaring, PPE is scarce and the supply chains are breaking down. A New York Times headline catches our eye: “Abe Make a Sewing Frolic” — In Ohio The Amish Take on the Coronavirus. This isolated, centuries-old, self-reliant community was rising to the occasion and collaborating with the outside world to fill the PPE needs of the massive Cleveland Clinic and beyond.

Artist Laurie Anderson helps narrate this story produced by The Kitchen Sisters, Outskirts Productions, designer Stacy Hoover, and producer Evan Jacoby.

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