KUTZTOWN, Pa. - Church bells sounded under spring skies in Kutztown, as Mayor Jim Schlegel delivered a message over the radio.

"From our porch to your porch, please raise a glass in a toast to our community," Schlegel said.

An outside observer, perhaps from another time, might mistake these signs as those of celebration.

"Cheers to all our neighbors who live next to us and to our neighbors who live across the street," he said.

But make no mistake, these are somber times in a cooped up community, mirroring many around Berks County and the country in the midst of a pandemic.

Kutztown coronavirus - COVID 19 toast

"Now you go outside on your front porch or you go out on the street, total silence," said Chris Deforest, a pastor in Kutztown. "It's an eerie thing. It reminds me of when 9/11 happened."

It's almost an act of defiance against a virus that has disrupted our way of life.

"There were people that I just couldn't go see, and a lot of what I do every day is face-to-face helping of people, and I couldn't do that," Deforest said.

So the shaken routines, seclusion and silence are being broken, at least for a moment.

"We yell. We scream. We talk. We have fun, but we don't get close," Schlegel said.

The stay-at-home order will carry on, but many in Kutztown said, despite the separation, they are still unified as a community.

"We are all in this together," Schlegel said. "We will beat it in the end. We will get back to a normalcy of some sort, and Kutztown will continue on, and I look forward to that day."

Recommended for you

Local / Regional

  • Updated

Days after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, people took to the streets in protest in dozens of cities around the country. They marched, chanted, stopped traffic and in some cases turned violent toward police to protest the death of the handcuffed black man after a white officer pressed a knee into his neck even after he stopped moving. Georgia's governor mobilized the National Guard to protect Atlanta, where demonstrators set a police car and American flag on fire, injured at least three officers, spray-painted the iconic logo sign at CNN headquarters, and broke into a restaurant. The crowd pelted officers who came over with bottles.

AP
  • Updated

Major League Soccer has given its teams the go-ahead to begin small voluntary group training sessions outdoors. The group sessions must comply with local public health and government restrictions and are the next step in the league’s efforts to return to action. Teams must submit club-specific plans to the league for the sessions. A maximum of six players may be assigned to a single group. All other health and safety measures required when MLS teams began individual training must still be maintained. A league-wide moratorium on full team training remains in effect through next Monday.