Marylou Armer Santa Rosa Police Detective dies of coronavirus after twice denied test cause she had no underlying health conditions. Betrayed by the system she protected?
A Northern California police detective who died of COVID-19 late last month was revealed to have been denied twice a coronavirus test by her health care provider after doctors told her that her age and lack of underlying medical condition did not qualify her as at an risk candidate for the test.
Marylou Armer, a 43-year-old detective with the Santa Rosa Police Department, began complaining of a fever, aching body, and shortness of breath beginning in mid-March.
She twice sought a coronavirus test from the Vallejo Medical Center, a facility run by the Kaiser Permanente health care consortium.
Her older sister, Mari Lau, told the Santa Rosa Press Democrat that she was turned away each time.
By the time Amer was finally tested on March 23, ‘it was too late already,’ Lau, 47, said.
Betrayed by the system she served to protect?
Armer, who was a resident of American Canyon in Napa County, walked into the emergency room that day and was sedated and intubated.
Doctors scrambled to hook Armer up to a ventilator in order to raise the oxygen level in her blood, which was dangerously low at the time, according to the Press Democrat.
The test for coronavirus came back positive, and Armer was then placed into a medically induced coma.
Armer, who was on life support for five days, never woke up. She died on March 31.
Doctors were hopeful that being in a coma would allow Armer’s body to recuperate and her lungs to restart.
She is survived by a husband and stepdaughter; her sister, Lau; her mother, Susan Hernandez of Carlsbad, California; and her brother, Ronnie Hernandez of Carlsbad.
Lau told the Press Democrat of the hospital’s refusal to test her: ‘It is very frustrating. A person knows their body and knows when something is wrong.’
Kaiser has since confirmed that Armer was denied a coronavirus test.
Dr. David Witt, Kaiser’s top infectious disease expert, said Armer was in regular contact with her physician.
Witt said doctors were adhering to ‘public health authority testing guidelines, which have been based on a very limited availability of tests.’
‘We offer heartfelt sympathies to Detective Armer’s family and loved ones at this profoundly difficult time.’
Witt said that as federal guidelines for testing have expanded since last month, so have those of Kaiser.
‘Those guidelines for testing have evolved over the past several weeks, whereas a month ago, testing was limited to those with symptoms and who had primary contact with a COVID-positive person,’ Witt said.
‘[O]ur policy at this time is to prioritize testing of first responders and healthcare workers. These are the heroes who serve, protect and care for our communities.’
Armer was the first peace officer in California to die from COVID-19. She was also the first fatality from Napa County.
Armer’s husband and stepdaughter were quarantined for two weeks following the female detective’s death because of their close proximity to Armer, but they didn’t experience any symptoms, the officer’s sister, Lau said.
Armer joined the Santa Rosa Police Department in 1999 as a civilian field evidence technician, and became an officer in 2008. Most recently, she served as an investigator in the sexual assault and domestic violence unit.
Our hearts are with the family of Detective Marylou Armer from Santa Rosa PD. Her family walks through the airport to say their final goodbyes￼. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the entire family along with Santa Rosa PD. Prayers to all brothers and sisters in blue. pic.twitter.com/9YikGI8bqd
— San Diego Police Department (@SanDiegoPD) April 7, 2020
Combatting a shortage of testing kits:
As of Friday, a total of nine police officers from Santa Rosa tested positive for coronavirus.
Santa Rosa officials do not know how Armer contracted the virus. While others on social media wondered whether the police officer by virtue of dealing on the front lines in public should have been availed the much critical test. While others wanted to know how California and many parts of the country remained sorely deficient in the supply and availability of critical testing kits – and to what degree profits over life and care may have led to yet another fatality in the ‘system.’
California Governor Gavin Newsom has since acknowledged that he ‘owns’ the state’s lapse in COVID-19 testing and announced a new task force will work to increase testing sites.
Newsom, 52, shared the revelations with residents in a video released to social media on Saturday.
Posted the official: ‘The testing space has been a challenging one for us and I own that. And I have a responsibility as your governor to do better and do more testing in the state of California.’
‘I own that, you deserve better and more,’ he added.
Newsom added that only 126,700 of the nearly 40 million Californians have been tested for coronavirus. Of those who have undergone testing, 13,000 are awaiting results.
As of Monday morning, the Golden State had 23,287 confirmed cases and 681 deaths.
Public health officials have called for widespread coronavirus testing in an effort to stop the spread, but the United States has continuously lagged.