77-year-old woman dies of COVID-19 after testing positive on Carnival cruise out of Texas

GALVESTON, Texas -- At least one person who sailed on a Carnival cruise out of Galveston, Texas in late July to early August died from COVID-19, the cruise line confirmed Tuesday.

The cruise line is pushing back against what they call "disinformation," saying it is almost certain the woman who died did not contract COVID on the ship.

The Houston Chronicle reported that 77-year-old Carnival Vista passenger Marilyn Tackett of Oklahoma was put on a ventilator in Belize after experiencing respiratory complications.

Tackett was evacuated to a hospital days later in Tulsa, Oklahoma where she received treatment. Ultimately, her condition worsened and she died on Aug. 14, her family said on her GoFundMe page.

Earlier this month, it was reported that 26 crew members and one passenger aboard the ship tested positive for COVID-19 before arriving in Belize City.

ORIGINAL STORY: 26 crew members and 1 passenger on Carnival ship from Galveston test positive for COVID

All 27 were vaccinated, had mild or no symptoms, and were in isolation, according to a statement from Carnival at the time. The tourism board said 99.98% of the ship's crew was vaccinated, as well as 96.5% of its passengers.

In a statement to ABC News, Carnival argued that Tackett "almost certainly did not contract COVID on our ship," and stressed that the crew is committed to protecting the health and safety of guests.

The cruise line said it has since implemented additional health and safety measures. Vaccinated travelers will now be required to present both a proof of vaccination and a negative COVID test at check-in. Unvaccinated guests must be tested twice before boarding the ship, and again at debarkation.

The following is the full statement from Carnival:

"Carnival has implemented a suite of protocols that are designed to flex up as needed to adapt to the changing public health situation related to COVID-19. We meet the standards for a vaccinated cruise as defined by the CDC, with at least 95 percent of our guests and all of our crew being vaccinated, and then implemented additional measures, as we are now requiring vaccinated guests to present both proof of vaccination and a negative COVID test at check-in. Those few guests who cannot be vaccinated are tested twice before boarding the ship, and again at debarkation. And all guests must wear masks in the indoor areas of the ship where people gather, such as dining rooms, theaters and casinos. Unfortunately, no venue on land or at sea is COVID-free right now, but we are committed to protecting the health and safety of our guests, crew and the communities we visit and have not hesitated to act quickly and go beyond existing public health guidelines.

Specifically to your question about the death of a Carnival Vista guest:

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. 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."
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