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Fully vaccinated Marilyn Tackett, 77, dies of Covid amid outbreak on Carnival cruise

Marilyn Tackett was reportedly fully vaccinated but died of Covid aboard a Carnival cruise in Belize after she and 26 passengers tested positive
UPDATED AUG 25, 2021
Marilyn Tackett  departed on the Carnival Vista with her family on July 31 and tested positive for Covid-19 (GoFundMe)
Marilyn Tackett departed on the Carnival Vista with her family on July 31 and tested positive for Covid-19 (GoFundMe)

A 77-year-old Oklahoma lady died August 14 from respiratory issues after testing positive for Covid-19 during a Carnival cruise. She was one of 27 fully vaccinated passengers who tested positive, news outlets reported on Wednesday, August 24. The cruise was the elderly woman's first trip outside the U.S.

MEAWW earlier reported on one William Shakespeare, 81, who became the first man in the world to get the approved American Pfizer/BioNTech Covid vaccine, who died at the hospital due to an illness not related to the coronavirus. Hillsong Church member Stephen Harmon died in California last month after a month-long battle with Covid. The CDC was also probing last month the demise of a Michigan boy, 13, who died three days after he received the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine. New strains of the coronavirus are evolving, making the fight against it more difficult. And even though a vaccine is available, many people have not taken it.


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Marilyn Tackett was a retired Sunday school teacher from Oklahoma. On July 31, she and her family set off from Galveston, Texas, on a Carnival Vista cruise that stopped in a variety of Caribbean ports, including Roatan and Belize. It's unclear how she came to be infected with the virus. On August 3, while the ship was docked in a Roatan port, Tackett went on an expedition.

The Carnival ship sailed to Belize the next day and docked there on August 4. Despite being inoculated, Tackett became unwell and declined to go on the Belize trip. Her children, on the other hand, landed in Belize. Tackett was having trouble breathing when her relatives returned, reports the Amandala of Belize; her family immediately contacted the ship's medical crew, who ran a Covid-19 test, which came back positive. 

The 27 cases reported on the Vista cruise have been the highest number of cases since cruises started sailing again. The outbreak of 27 cases aboard the ship was discovered on the fourth day of an eight-day cruise, shortly before the ship docked in Belize. Twenty-six of those who tested positive were crew members and the other was a passenger, reported CNBC.

Marilyn Tackett was a Sunday school teacher who had retired. On July 31, she and her family set off from Galveston, Texas, on a Carnival Vista cruise (Photo by Thomas Shea/Getty Images)

Tackett's condition was grave, according to the doctor. She needed to be put on a ventilator. The doctor then arranged for Tackett to be transported to a Belizean hospital. The private hospital requested $5,000 from the family before Tackett could be admitted. Tackett's insurance company did not cover this cost because her policy did not cover international medical care or emergency flights back to the United States.

Her granddaughter eventually set up a GoFundMe campaign for her grandma in the hopes of obtaining $30,000 to fly Tackett to Tulsa, Oklahoma for medical treatment. She was eventually taken back to the hospital in an air ambulance and put on a ventilator till she died of her illness. "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. To know she's reunited with lost loved ones and that she's basking in The Lord's presence now is a huge comfort," Tara Cameron, one of Tackett's grandchildren, wrote on the crowdfunding page. 

The ship carried over 1,400 crew members and over 3,000 tourists, the Daily Mail reported. Although the cruise line did not test vaccinated guests before they boarded the ship, Carnival stated it is "extremely unlikely" that Tackett got the virus while on board. "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," Carnival said in a statement.  

Carnival announced on August 4 that from August 14, travelers will be required to wear a mask in specific indoor areas of ships and provide a negative Covid test within three days of embarkation for cruises. The cruise line said on August 22 that effective August 28, all guests aged 12 and up will be required to show proof of immunization. According to a statement from the Belize Tourism Board, all 27 people were vaccinated, and the majority of them showed little or no symptoms and were kept in isolation. The tourism authority shared that 99.98 percent of the ship's crew and 96.5 percent of its guests were vaccinated.

The ship was investigated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which said it 'remains under observation.' This is not the first Covid-19-related death connected to a Carnival Cruise Line ship this summer. In June, a popular Carnival chief engineer, Angelo Strano, died from Covid-19. Officer Stano had worked for Carnival for thirty-four and one-half years after starting his career with Carnival in December 1986.

As the more contagious Delta variant of the virus continues to spread, the CDC has issued updated guidance on Aug 20 advising that travelers at increased risk for severe illness avoid going on cruises regardless of vaccination status.