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One family's tragedy from a breakthrough COVID case: "It is very imperative that we still mask up"

Breakthrough COVID deaths extremely rare
Breakthrough COVID deaths extremely rare 05:14

As the Delta variant sweeps across the country, research shows it is extremely rare for people to get COVID-19 after receiving a vaccine – so-called "breakthrough cases" – leading to hospitalization or death.

According to the CDC, 99.9 percent of Americans who have been vaccinated do not get seriously sick if they contract COVID; breakthrough cases make up less than 1% of all COVID cases. Of the more than 168 million Americans who have been fully vaccinated, 1,587 have died of COVID; that's about 0.0009% of all vaccinated people.

While it is extremely rare for a vaccinated person to die of COVID, for the families of those who are part of that rare group, it's devastating.

To date, there have been 100 deaths in Louisiana involving people who contracted COVID and were fully vaccinated, including 23 in the last week, according to Dr. Joseph Kanter with the Louisiana Department of Health. Kanter pointed out that the median age for severe breakthrough infections is 74 years old, and the vast majority had severe underlying conditions.

"CBS This Morning" lead national correspondent David Begnaud talked with Tara Mosley, who read to him what would be some of her daughter Angelle's final words:

"I'm not feeling well."

"My legs turning black."

Over the course of the next few days, Angelle would describe her pain in detail through text messages, as she lay alone at home, and later at the hospital.

"My lungs are clogged up with mucus and blood."

angelle-mosley-covid.jpg
Louisiana entrepreneur Angelle Mosley was vaccinated, but her breakthrough COVID case proved fatal.  Family Photo

Angelle battled COVID and pneumonia in a New Orleans hospital. Her mother was only allowed to see her very briefly.

"I went in and I prayed with her, and I had assured her that we love her," Mosley told Begnaud. "You know, it's like, 'Angelle, we love you.' And at that moment she shed a tear."

That same day, on July 25, Angelle died. She was 33 years old.

"I just tested positive for COVID-19 while being vaccinated."

When Angelle initially told her mother and her sister that she had tested positive for COVID, she said that she was vaccinated – which means that she is considered a breakthrough case.

Begnaud said, "There will be people who watch this story who say, 'She got vaccinated and she died.'"

"I will still say to them, still be vaccinated, because her weight played a lot in it," Mosley replied.

"Did the doctor ever speak to you about her weight and that being a factor?"

"He did. He did. He says that she's a large person," she said. "Her heart could not pump like it should have been pumping."

The CDC says that people with certain comorbidities are more at risk for having severe symptoms of COVID-19, among them obesity, chronic kidney and heart disease, asthma and cancer. The agency recommends people with such conditions continue to wear masks and social distance, in addition to getting vaccinated against COVID-19.

"Right now, the majority of cases where we are seeing positive with COVID-19 are the unvaccinated, period," said CBS News medical contributor Dr. David Agus. He said that vaccines are stopping people from getting seriously ill, and that nearly everyone who's died after being vaccinated has had some type of serious underlying medical condition.

"It's very important for every single person who's been vaccinated to know, if you have other medical conditions, the vaccine doesn't protect from those becoming an issue or causing a problem," Agus said. "While the vaccines may give you some protection, it's not enough to overcome the medical issues or the lack of a very strong immune system, unfortunately."

Angelle was a budding entrepreneur. She owned Brave Beautique in New Orleans, a store that specializes in clothes for plus-size women. Inside, Angelle's bright-colored clothing lines the walls. Outside, there has been a growing memorial.

Angelle's mother wanted to assure us that her daughter took the virus seriously, and she wanted all her friends and family to get vaccinated.

Begnaud asked her mother, "If she were here right now, what would she want you to say?"

"Keep her business going, because that was her baby, it was her dream," Mosley replied. "I know she really wanted the people to know to actually get to be vaccinated, to still mask up. You know, it is very imperative that we still mask up."

Angelle was laid to rest on Saturday.  Mosley said she plans to keep Angelle's store up and running.

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