Eight retired nuns living in the same convent were all killed by Covid within a week of one another, with four dying on the same day. Sisters Rose Feess and Mary Elva Wiesner were the first to die at the Notre Dame of Elk Grove Convent in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on December 9.
Sister Dorothy MacIntyre succumbed to Covid two days later, with Sister Mary Alexius Portz dying of coronavirus on December 13. Then, on Monday December 14, Sisters Cynthia Borman, Joan Emily Kaul, Lillia Langreck and Michael Marie Laux were all killed by the disease.
Notre Dame of Elk Grove leader Sister Debra Marie Sciano said afterwards: ‘Even though they’re older and most of the sisters that did go to God are in their late 80s, 90s…we didn’t expect them to go so, so quickly. So it was just very difficult for us.’
The convent, which is home to around 100 nuns, had been totally free of coronavirus throughout the outbreak. Covid first hit US shores in January, before spreading rapidly throughout March.
Staff found out that one of the sisters had tested positive at the end of November.
They immediately put social distancing and other measures in place in a bid to stop the virus spreading, but it was too late, with multiple other diagnoses following in quick succession.
Sister Sciano declined to say how many of the congregation had tested positive, citing privacy concerns.
The affected nuns were all isolated in the same area and confined to their rooms, with meals brought to them.
Those nuns who lost their lives will have their funerals broadcast via video link.
It is unclear whether the convent is on a priority list for Covid vaccines, although Sciano said her team are now pushing for the remaining nuns to receive the shot as quickly as possible.
The eight deaths at Notre Dame of Elk Grove come after 13 nuns died at the Felecian Sisters of North America convent in Livonia, Michigan during July.
That death toll represented a fifth of the convent’s population. Seven nuns died at a separate convent in Maryknoll, New York, in spring.
And six nuns have died of Covid at the Our Lady of the Angels Convent in Greenfield, Wisconsin, a spokesman announced earlier this month.
That facility provided specialist care for nuns suffering from dementia.
Convents are as vulnerable to bad Covid outbreaks as nursing homes, due to the age of their residents, and confined spaces they share.
The United States has so-far recorded 17.2 million Covid caes, with 310,000 dying as a result.
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