An employee at Sacramento’s CBS station tested positive for COVID-19 in mid-August, the first-known case of an infection of the novel coronavirus at a media outlet in the region.
Newsroom workers were told about the COVID-19 infection late last week when KOVR (Channel 13) general manager Justin Draper issued a station-wide memo saying an unidentified employee tested positive for the virus.
The memo did not name the worker who tested positive, but three sources at KOVR identified the infected employee as Rachel Wulff, a general assignment reporter who had not been on the air since August 12.
After learning about her diagnosis, Wulff immediately contacted her manager at KOVR and was ordered to remain in self-isolation for two weeks, according to a source at the station. A photographer who regularly works with Wulff was also directed to stay home, though he eventually returned to the station after testing negative for the virus, the source said. Wulff returned to work on Monday.
Wulff learned about her positive test shortly after she interviewed Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert about a then-upcoming sentence in the criminal case of Joseph DeAngelo, a mass murderer better known as the Golden State Killer, one station employee with knowledge of the situation said.
Wulff’s interview with Schubert occurred one week before DeAngelo received a life sentence in prison. Schubert appeared in person at DeAngelo’s sentencing on August 21.
A spokesperson for the district attorney’s office told The Desk by email no one from the station contacted them about Wulff’s positive COVID-19 test.
“We were not contacted by CBS 13,” the spokesperson said. “However, the interview was conducted in a manner consistent with social distancing protocol and DA Schubert has none of the symptoms associated with COVID-19.”
Draper did not return an email message from The Desk.
Wulff’s case is the first-known positive COVID-19 infection to befall a news media worker in the Sacramento region since the start of the health pandemic earlier this year. Employees at other stations in Miami, Denver, Savannah and elsewhere have also been afflicted with the virus.
California has been hit particularly hard by the virus: In June, health data revealed the state had more confirmed cases of COVID-19 infections than anywhere else in the country. As of Sunday, nearly 13,000 people had died from COVID-19 in California and more than 699,900 people had been infected since the state started tracking confirmed cases of the virus, though the rate of infections appears to be slowing.
Health experts say the best defense against the virus is to wear a face mask when in public, employ social distancing measures, wash hands with soap and warm water, disinfect frequently-touched surfaces and stay at home when possible.
This article has been updated to include comments from a spokesperson with the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office.