Santa Rosa grieves first police officer to die from new coronavirus

SANTA ROSA, Calif. (KGO) -- In Santa Rosa, today, police officers and a community mourned the death of Detective Marylou Armer, who died of the novel coronavirus.

She was 43-years-old and in California, is already becoming a symbol. But, we have now reached the point in this pandemic where even the solemn and dignified tradition of honoring a fallen police detective has become a cautious and restrained affair.

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"She was a dedicated friend to everyone she met. And she will be sorely missed," said Santa Rosa Police Officer Stephen Bussell.

Even the police press conference Wednesday took place at longer than social distancing standards. They did it through a video conference.

Quickly, questions turned to how many other officers Detective Armer may have infected.

"We have had nine positive tests. One of them is Marylou," disclosed Chief Ranier Navarro. "One has recovered and we have seven others in isolation right now."

The department has increased precautions in every conceivable area of contact.

As the stack of flowers grew outside police headquarters, we still do not know when or where Detective Armer encountered the virus. Her department is calling this a death in the line of duty, with all the benefits that accompany it.

She is California's first peace officer to die from COVID-19, but there have been positive tests elsewhere.

"To the best of my knowledge we're running 25-30 statewide," said Brian Marvel of the Peace Officer Research Association.

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He wants officers to receive increased testing and appropriate safety gear for their work in the field.

"Well, I think what if someone was asymptomatic, and then they come into contact with co-workers and family? How many people does that get to?"

New York City is enduring the worst-case scenario. There, more than 1,000 police officers have tested positive for the coronavirus. Five have died.

Now, in Santa Rosa, add Detective Marylou Armer, a wife and mother, to that saddest of roll calls.

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