A 77-year-old woman who sailed aboard a Carnival cruise ship from Texas to Belize has reportedly died of COVID-19, despite being fully vaccinated.
Marilyn Tackett, a retired Sunday school teacher from Oklahoma, departed Galveston aboard the Carnival Vista on July 31 “so excited to take her first trip outside the US,” her granddaughter Tara wrote on a GoFundMe page.
“While on the Caribbean Cruise she got sick and diagnosed with covid in Belize,” the relative said.
The day before Tackett was diagnosed, on Aug. 3, she went on an excursion in Roatán, when the ship docked at the island about 40 miles off the northern coast of Honduras, the Amandala of Belize reported.
When the ship arrived in Belize the next day, the fully vaccinated woman declined to go on an excursion in the country, where her children disembarked for the tour, according to the news outlet.
When her family returned, Tackett was having difficulty breathing, so they called the ship’s medical personnel, who administered a COVID test that came back positive, the Amandala reported.
The ship’s doctor said she had to be placed on a ventilator and made arrangements for her to be transferred to a private hospital in Belize that demanded a payment of $5,000 before she could be admitted, according to the outlet.
Tackett’s insurance did not cover the fee, so her granddaughter reportedly raised money through GoFundMe to get her into intensive care.
The severely ill woman was ultimately flown back to the US in an air ambulance but succumbed to the disease Aug. 14.
“We just wanted to get on here and Thank all of you for your support, love and prayers. Memaw fought as long as she could,” the family said on its fundraising page, referring to Tackett’s nickname.
“To know she’s reunited with lost loved ones and that she’s basking in The Lord’s presence now is a huge comfort.
“We’ll always miss and love her and continue to keep her legacy alive. We’ll continue to walk in Faith like she taught us and try to spread love and kindness like she did. Please continue to keep her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren in your prayers as we lay her to rest. And please know we love and appreciate you all,” they added.
When the Carnival ship arrived in Belize City around Aug. 11, it had 27 COVID-19-positive people — 26 of them crew members — aboard, the highest number of reported cases on an American ship since the cruise industry opened back up this summer.
The company noted that there were more than 4,000 people on the Vista, the first Carnival ship to set sail this year, and that 99.98 percent of the crew was vaccinated, along with the vast majority of the passengers.
Carnival said Tackett “almost certainly did not contract COVID on our ship,” and stressed that the crew was committed to protecting the health and safety of the passengers, ABC 13 reported.
The company said it has implemented additional health and safety measures.
Vaccinated passengers are now required to present both a proof of vaccination and a negative COVID test at check-in, the news outlet reported. Unvaccinated travelers must be tested twice before boarding and again at debarkation.
“We are very sorry to hear about the death of a guest who sailed on Carnival Vista. Regrettably, there is a fair amount of disinformation about the circumstances of this matter,” Carnival said in a statement.
“The guest almost certainly did not contract COVID on our ship, and she was assisted with expert medical care on board and was ultimately evacuated from Belize after we provided a resource to her family. We have continued to provide support to her family and are not going to add to their sadness by commenting further,” the statement added.
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