Woman dies of COVID-19 after testing positive on Carnival cruise out of Galveston

Travelers on Carnival cruise ships will need to show proof of vaccination, negative test

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GALVESTON – A woman who tested positive for COVID-19 while aboard a Carnival cruise ship from Galveston has died, according to reports.

Marilyn Tackett, a 77-year-old passenger from Oklahoma, was among 27 people who tested positive on the Carnival Vista just after it stopped in Mexico earlier this month. The other positive cases were among crew members on the ship, which was carrying more than 1,400 crew and nearly 3,000 passengers.

The ship arrived on Aug. 11 in Belize City, where Tackett was hospitalized and put on a ventilator, the New York Times reported. Days later she was airlifted to a hospital in Tulsa and her condition worsened. She died on Aug. 14.

The Belize Tourism Board previously told the Associated Press that all 27 people, including Tackett, were vaccinated, and at first, had mild-to-no symptoms. About 99.98% of the ship’s crew and 96.5% of its passengers were vaccinated.

Carnival said while the company is “very sorry to hear about the death of a guest who sailed on Carnival Vista,” it is unlikely Tackett contracted the virus aboard the vessel.

“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.”

Carnival is requiring passengers to be vaccinated against the virus unless they are under 12 years old or have a medical condition that does not allow them to be immunized.

Vaccinated guests must also show proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within three days of departure.

Last Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began advising those who are at a higher risk of severe COVID-19 symptoms to avoid traveling on cruises. It is also recommending that passengers show both negative tests and proof of vaccinations.

Royal Caribbean is also requiring COVID-19 vaccines for travelers departing from certain U.S. ports, including Galveston. Starting Sept. 3, Disney Cruise Line will require immunizations for those traveling to the Bahamas, where vaccines will be required for those 12 and older.

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Rebecca Salinas has worked as a digital journalist in San Antonio for six years. Her skills include content management, engagement and reporting.