Nine nuns died in January from a COVID-19 outbreak that struck their retirement home in southern Michigan, officials said.
The women were retired from active ministry and lived at the campus of the Adrian Dominican Sisters in Adrian, 75 miles southwest of Detroit, news station WDIV reported.
“We spent nine months keeping the coronavirus at bay. Right before Christmas, it slipped in,” Sister Pat Siemen told the outlet.
But Siemen said the virus managed to infiltrate the home, despite the protocols in place.
“It slips in. That’s the heartache of this virus,” Siemen said. “We’ve had no guests on campus. Our sisters have not seen their family members. They haven’t even seen our other sisters who live off campus since this started in the middle of March. And yet that virus is very sneaky.”
The outbreak infected at least 48 of the more than 200 residents who live there.
Most of the sisters who died were high risk for other health complications, Siemen said.
The sisters — Dorothea Gramlich, 81, Helen Laier, 88, Jeannine Therese McGorray, 86, Charlotte Moser, 86, Esther Ortega, 86, Mary Lisa Rieman, 79, Ann Rena Shinkey, 87, Margaret Ann Swallow, 97, and Mary Irene Wischmeyer, 94 — died between January 11 and 26, WDIV reported.
“It’s numbing,” Siemen said. “I have a much deeper appreciation for all of the other families who have gone through this. The hundreds of thousands of families. And until it personally touches you, I don’t care how much we can have a sympathetic heart, it’s different when you’ve been there and you’ve lost someone.”
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