11 OED employees at Wilsonville center test positive for virus


The location opened in May of this year to accommodate the hundreds of new employees needed to handle the influx of pandemic-related unemployment claims

The Oregon Employment Department (KOIN, file)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The Oregon Employment Department said 11 employees at their Wilsonville Contact Center have tested positive for Covid-19 since the start of November. They learned an 11th person tested positive Tuesday.

The Wilsonville location opened in May of this year to accommodate the hundreds of new employees needed to handle the influx of unemployment claims. The Wilsonville office is OED’s largest workplace with about 600 employees. OED said the Wilsonville office will stay open, but they are now making changes so more employees can work from home.

“This increase of people we work with contracting COVID-19 mirrors the disturbing increase we are seeing all throughout the state and the nation,” explained OED Acting Director David Gerstenfeld.

There will be further delays in getting people benefits because of the outbreak.

“It may be in all areas, it’s in initial processing, it’s in adjudication, it’s in responding to the contact us inquiries, we have a lot of different types of work that are being done by the employees in the Wilsonville Contact Center, so we are going to see some delays,” Gerstenfeld explained.

Gerstenfeld said they met with employees at the Wilsonville location Wednesday morning to let them know they are accelerating the remote work options this week.

“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,” Gerstenfeld said.

The recent numbers of COVID-19 cases will now be included in the Oregon Health Authority’s workplace outbreak listing, Gerstenfeld said.

“This situation is obviously a huge additional burden on our employees and we’re doing everything we can to protect each and every one of our employees,” Gerstenfeld said.

Gerstenfeld said they have been adding more and more protective measures over time for employees and are taking additional measures to limit the spread.

“We’ve been going beyond the required measures for months. For example, when the new OSHA rules came out that had a number of new requirements, we were already doing everything substantively required under those rules other than some documentation of the concrete actions that we were already doing,” Gerstenfeld explained.

In July, the department’s Gresham location had to temporarily shut down due to a COVID-19 outbreak.

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