Nine nuns have died from Covid-19 in just over a month at a New York convent after an outbreak infected at least 22 sisters.
A spokesman from Albany County – in upstate New York – said that officials were aware of the deaths among the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet in Latham.
Earlier in the month, it had been reported that 22 of the 140 sisters at the convent had contracted the disease that has now killed 37,983 in the state.
At least thirteen nuns have died at the convent since November 25, although it was unclear if they had all died from coronavirus.
Obituaries showed that of the 13 people that have died at the facility, seven were in their 90s, five in their 80s and one in her late 70s.
Pictured: The congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet in Latham, Albany where 13 sisters have died – at least nine of which passed due to Covid-19
County spokeswoman Mary Rozak emailed the Times Union a statement from county Health Commissioner Elizabeth Whalen saying the county was aware of the nine COVID-19-related deaths at the convent.
‘Four of the deaths associated with the congregation had been previously reported earlier this month by the hospitals,’ the statement from Whalen said. ‘The other five were not reported to the Albany County Department of Health by the facility.’
Albany has recorded 3,469 cases of the coronavirus – a rate of 8,922 cases per 100,000 people – and 202 related deaths.
The deaths at the 370-year-old convent come as part of the region’s worst period in terms of infections since the beginning of the pandemic.
‘Our department has been working with the congregation on outbreak control since early December, and worked with additional private professional staff brought in by the facility to provide infection control guidance,’ Whalen said.
She added that the convent does not fall under the oversight of the state Department of Health or other regulatory agencies.
‘Our heartfelt condolences go out to those in the community,’ Whalen said.
Mary DeTurris Poust , a spokeswoman for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, told the news outlet: ‘All of us at the Diocese of Albany are praying for the Sisters during this challenging time.
‘In addition to the loss of so many beloved sisters who served others so selflessly for decades, there is the added difficulty of not being able to celebrate their lives as a community due to COVID restrictions.
‘As for so many people who have lost loved ones in recent months, the already difficult task of grieving is made even more difficult by isolation and lack of closure.’
Poust said on Monday that Mary Rose Noonan – the director of communications at the convent – had told her that the facility was still grieving the loss of the sisters and was not ready to give a public statement at the time.
Noonan had also said the home has ‘had cases like every other nursing home but the deceased were not all COVID patients and we would like to protect the privacy of all of our sisters at the present time,’ the Times Union reported.
On March 16, St. Joseph’s announced via its website that because of the pandemic and guidelines from health officials, general public access to the facility were to be suspended and prohibited until further notice.
All masses, meetings and programs were also cancelled until May 31.
A statement from county Health Commissioner Elizabeth Whalen (pictured) said the county was aware of the nine COVID-19-related deaths at the convent
The Sisters of St. Joseph’s congregation dates back to 1650 in southern France. After five sisters were executed by revolutionaries during the French Revolution, they went undercover and moved to the United States.
They first moved to near the village of Carondelet outside St. Louis. They opened a school in Oswego before later moving to Albany, where they founded the College of Saint Rose in 1920.
The Latham location dates back to 1963 and serves as the center and headquarters for the congregation’s Albany Province, and as a home for retired nuns from the congregation, including those in need of long-term health care.
According to the congregation’s Facebook page, the convent and monastery is a ‘Catholic community of women religious who work to bring God’s unifying and reconciling love wherever the needs are.
‘Through our ministry in education, health care, parish and social services, the arts, spiritual direction, counseling and hospitality and through our life together in prayer and community, we try to serve all God’s people, especially the poor.’