VILLA HILLS, Ky. (WKRC) - A COVID-19 outbreak at a Northern Kentucky monastery claimed the lives of two nuns as more than two dozen other sisters tested positive.
The question is: How did the coronavirus get in? During the pandemic, the sisters of St. Walburg closed the monastery to visitors and held no religious services in the hopes of staying healthy.
Until last week, that was the case.
"We were very shocked by it because we’ve been extremely closed-down. We have not gone anywhere to speak of, and we haven’t had visitors,” said Sub Prioress Nancy Kordenbrock.
Twenty-eight of the 35 sisters tested positive and, sadly, two of them have passed away.
"Both of them are elderly and had some health issues and were not able to compete with COVID,” said Kordenbrock.
Sr. Charles Wolking and Sr. Rita Bilz were both in their 90s and both were important women at the monastery.
Thankfully, the other sisters did get antibody infusions at St. Elizabeth Hospital. Their symptoms vary and one sister remains hospitalized.
"Currently in ICU, but we think she will be moved from there. She’s doing so much better. She had serious respiratory issues. Another sister had been in the hospital but came home,” said Kordenbrock.
The outbreak comes just two days after the sisters got their first COVID-19 vaccine shot.
"This is actually way more common than you might think,” said Dr. Steven Feagins.
Dr. Feagins is the Hamilton County public health director. He says, in cases like this, the vaccine's effect isn't lessened; it just delays getting the second dose.
"Whenever you get it, you get it, so we consider the 21 days minimum,” said Dr. Feagins.
For the sisters, they're getting better and thankful for the Villa Madonna community.
"The support and the prayers has just been such a blessing for us, and we can’t say how much we appreciate it. It’s been phenomenal," Kordenbrock said.
The sisters will receive their second dose of the vaccine in May.