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City of Santa Rosa to Pay Nearly $10K in COVID Safety Fines Over Detective's Death

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The city of Santa Rosa will pay nearly $10,000 in penalties to the state's workplace safety agency as part of a settlement over the death of a police detective due to COVID-19 complications.

The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health issued four citations to the city after investigating the March 31, 2020, death of police Detective Marylou Armer, 43, after she contracted COVID-19 and the agency determined the city did not have proper workplace safety measures in place.

Cal/OSHA originally sought $32,000 in penalties, citing the city for improper record keeping, violating the Santa Rosa Police Department's respiratory safety equipment protocol and improperly managing employees with COVID-19 symptoms.

The citations were ultimately downgraded after city officials argued that Armer's infection and death occurred at a time when the nature of the virus was still unknown, and that Sonoma County public health officials had not even issued safety protocols for employers until the day Armer died.

Cal/OSHA subsequently lowered the citation for improper record keeping from $5,000 to $3,000 and cut the fine for improper respiratory safety protection in half, from $13,500 to $6,750. 

Cal/OSHA also waived two fines of $6,750 each for the improper management of employees with COVID-19 symptoms, both of which were initially deemed "serious" violations but were reduced in severity to "notice in lieu."

“The city of Santa Rosa takes the health and safety of all its employees very seriously and continues to implement best practices for COVID-19 prevention in the workplace," the city said in a statement.

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