Friday, December 18, 2020

8 Catholic Sisters Die of Covid-19 Within a Week at a Wisconsin Home

By Christine Hauser
Dec. 18, 2020Updated 5:05 p.m. ET

They were educators, music teachers and community activists who served tirelessly for those living in poverty.

In less than two weeks, eight Roman Catholic sisters died of illnesses related to Covid-19 at a Wisconsin retirement home this month, a gut-wrenching loss that highlighted the risks of infection in communal residences, even as administrators said they took precautions against infection.

The deaths took place at Notre Dame of Elm Grove, about eight miles west of Milwaukee, in Waukesha County. Like most of the United States, Wisconsin is struggling to contain the spread of the coronavirus, and it has recorded at least 482,443 cases and 4,566 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic, according to a New York Times database. There have been 34,176 cases in Waukesha, it shows.


Experts say that aging populations are particularly vulnerable to the virus, which thrives in transmission anywhere people are in close contact. The sisters lived communally, just as residents living in nursing homes, which have especially been hard hit by the pandemic.

The deaths at the residence reflected losses at similar facilities. At the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in Livonia, Mich., 12 Felician sisters died in April and May, followed by a 13th sister in June, of Covid-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.


In Wisconsin, at least five sisters at Our Lady of the Angels Convent, in a suburb of Milwaukee, died, starting in April. All five nuns were discovered to have the virus only after their deaths.

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