Detective Who Died From COVID-19 Was Repeatedly Turned Away From Virus Testing
Santa Rosa, CA – Doctors repeatedly refused to perform COVID-19 testing on a Santa Rosa detective who ultimately succumbed to the novel coronavirus after a two-week battle.
By the time she made her third request, “it was too late already,” her sister told The Press Democrat.
Santa Rosa Police Detective Marylou Armer, 43, began experiencing body aches, a fever, and shortness of breath in mid-March, according to her sister, 47-year-old Mari Lau.
“She said she’d never felt this kind of sickness in her body before,” Lau recalled.
Det. Armer went to the Kaiser Permanente’s Vallejo Medical Center on two occasions and asked to be tested for the novel coronavirus, but was denied both times, Lau told The Press Democrat.
According to Lau, the medical staff told her sister that her age and lack of underlying medical conditions precluded her from being considered as someone who would be vulnerable to the disease.
It wasn’t until Det. Armer’s husband rushed her into the emergency room on March 23 that doctors finally agreed to perform a COVID-19 test.
But by that time, the detective had already been sedated an intubated in an effort to increase her oxygen levels, The Press Democrat reported.
When her coronavirus test came back positive just hours later, Det. Armer was placed into a medically-induced coma.
Her family wasn’t allowed to see her in the days that followed because she was in isolation, so they made voice recordings for the hospital staff to play for her, The Press Democrat reported.
“When they played that, they said that her heartbeat kind of went up a beat and her oxygen went up a little, which was good news,” Lau said. “The toughest thing about this situation is not being able to be there for her when she was at the hospital and being able to see her and talk to her.”
Det. Armer’s condition seemed to improve a bit each day before it would worsen yet again, The Press Democrat reported.
“That evening [before she died], her condition just got really bad,” Lau said.
Det. Armer remained in a coma until her death on March 31.
Lau said that her family is frustrated that her sister’s requests to be tested for COVID-19 were repeatedly denied, The Press Democrat reported.
“A person knows their body and knows when something is wrong,” she said.
But the HMO’s national infectious disease expert Dr. Davit Witt said that doctors are required to adhere to “public health authority testing guidelines,” and that only a “very limited” number of tests were available at the time, The Press Democrat reported.
“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 explained. “Our 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.”
Witt noted that Det. Armer had been in regular contact with her physician throughout her illness.
“We offer heartfelt sympathies to Detective Armer’s family and loved ones at this profoundly difficult time,” he said in a statement to The Press Democrat.
Det. Armer served the Santa Rosa Police Detective for over 20 years, the Napa Valley Register reported.
Her law enforcement career began in 1999, when she joined SRPD as a field evidence technician, Santa Rosa Police Chief Ray Navarro said in a statement, according to The Press Democrat.
Chief Navarro said he had supervised her during their night shifts in those early years.
Det. Armer began serving as a police officer in 2008, and was a member of the department’s Domestic Violence Sexual Assault Team at the time of her death, The Press Democrat reported.
“She was always proactive and there with a smile,” Chief Navarro said. “We are all going to miss her terribly.”
Det. Armer leaves behind her husband and stepdaughter, according to KNTV.