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A Covid-19 outbreak that tore through a New York convent infected 47 sisters and killed 9

CINDY SCHULTZ/The New York Times

At a convent in upstate New York, a Covid-19 crisis has struck.

Since late November, Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet in Latham has seen 47 sisters become sick with Covid-19, nine of whom have died. Ten staff members at the convent have also been infected, Albany County spokeswoman Mary Rozak told CNN.

The convent’s Provincial House is home to approximately 140 sisters and in part serves as the residence for retired sisters and for those who need long-term health care, according to the convent’s website.

The Albany County Health Department has been trying to contain the outbreak since early December, county health commissioner Dr. Elizabeth Whalen told CNN last week.

“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.

The convent has also worked to curb the spread and has been following guidelines from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Sister Mary Rose Noonan, a spokeswoman for the convent.

“A downturn is just around the corner, especially with the help of the vaccine,” she said. “We are also praying for all the people across the world whose lives have been impacted by the pandemic.”

Noonan did not comment further on the extent of the outbreak at the convent.

Covid-19 cases in New York have seen a recent spike — a phenomenon experts predicted would occur after the holidays. Data from Monday indicates 170 more people have died of the virus, while 925 patients have been newly admitted to the hospital. The state also reports an 8.34% positivity rate.

Residents of congregate housing — such as convents, veterans homes and nursing homes — have been particularly susceptible to the spread of Covid-19.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo urged hospitals to quicken the administration of the vaccines.

Vaccine administration in nursing homes, which has been run by the federal government, has also “not been going as quickly as we would like,” Cuomo said Monday.

As a result, New York state is trying to expedite the process by sending staff to administer the vaccine in long-term care facilities. Though most nursing home residents have already received the first dose of the vaccine, the remaining residents should receive theirs in the next two weeks, he said.

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