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COVID-19 outbreak at Oregon Employment Department's Wilsonville office to slow operations

Eleven people at OED's Wilsonville Contact Center have tested positive for the coronavirus since early November.

WILSONVILLE, Ore. — A COVID-19 outbreak at the Oregon Employment Department's (OED) new Wilsonville office is expected to slow processing of unemployment claims.

During a press briefing on Wednesday, the department's acting director, David Gerstenfeld, said 11 employees at the Wilsonville office have tested positive for the coronavirus since the start of November. 

"We are incredibly concerned about our employees," said Gerstenfeld. 

Gerstenfeld said many of the hundreds of employees at the Wilsonville office, which is OED's largest workplace, will switch to working remotely this week. The employees were notified of the transition Wednesday morning. The office will remain open and operational.

"The rapid and significant shift to remote work will cause real disruptions in our ability to get work done at the pace we have been," he said.

The Wilsonville office opened in May to accommodate the hundreds of thousands of Oregonians seeking unemployment benefits during the pandemic. 

Gerstenfeld said since the office opened, OED has been been taking precautions beyond what is required by the state in order to keep employees safe from infection. 

"Our employees are here to help the public and have been pushing themselves to the limits for months to help those people relying on us while facing the same coronavirus risks and fears each of us faces everyday," said Gerstenfeld. 

He said having an outbreak despite these precautions has been "sobering."

Watch the full press conference: