Carnival says cruise passenger who died from COVID-19 didn’t contract virus onboard

Carnival Corp. says a passenger who died from COVID-19 didn’t contract the virus onboard the Carnival Vista ship.

"We are very sorry to hear about the death of a guest who sailed on Carnival Vista," a company spokesperson said in a statement to FOX Television Stations. 

"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," the statement continued. 

According to the New York Times, the passenger was a 77-year-old woman named Marilyn Tackett from Oklahoma. 

A statement on a GoFundMe page said she got sick and was diagnosed with COVID-19 at a hospital in Belize. She was put on a ventilator and later transferred to a hospital in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

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"Memaw fought as long as she could," the online statement read. "To know she’s reunited with lost loved ones and that she’s basking in The Lord’s presence now is a huge comfort."

During the second week of August, 27 vaccinated Carnival cruise passengers on a Carnival Vista ship tested positive for COVID-19 just before making a stop in Belize City. The positive cases were among 26 crew members and one passenger. Overall, the ship had been carrying over 1,400 crew and nearly 3,000 passengers, the Belize Tourism Board said in a statement, adding that 99.98% of the ship’s crew was vaccinated, as well as 96.5% of its passengers.

The cruise company said it has strict protocols in place. Vaccinated guests are required to show proof of vaccination plus a negative COVID-19 test at check-in. Those who are unable to be vaccinated must be tested before boarding the ship and once again when the ship docks. Guests must also wear masks in indoor areas.

"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," the company said. 

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on its website that it had investigated the Carnival Vista and the ship remains under observation.

The incident will prove as a test for the cruise industry, looking to rebound from the 2020 lockdown.

In May, the CDC gave the green light for Royal Caribbean to conduct a test sail. It was the first test cruise in more than a year in U.S. waters.

The cruise industry had been essentially closed for business since mid-March 2020, when it became clear that the deadly and contagious virus had already been sweeping through the U.S. unabated for weeks. The cruise association estimates that the suspension of cruises knocked out more than $25 billion in economic activity in the U.S. and 164,000 American jobs.

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Shares in the major cruise line companies started to decline in February 2020 as the virus spread and hit bottom in mid-March when the U.S. economy effectively shut down. Companies have suffered billions in losses this year, wiping out more than 70% of their value.

According to Cruise Lines International Association, the 2020 suspension of cruise operations around the world led to a loss of more than $77 billion in global economic activity, more than 518,000 jobs and more than $23 billion in wages.

FOX Business and Associated Press contributed to this report. This story was reported from Los Angeles.