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Employee of Waste Management tests positive for COVID-19

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Update: Still no cases confirmed by OHA in Gilliam County

The Unified Command of Wasco, Sherman and Gilliam counties held their weekly conference call on Monday May 4. Gilliam County Sheriff Gary Bettencourt told the Times-Journal that a representative from Waste Management joined the call and confirmed that one employee of Waste Management had tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

Sheriff Bettencourt said that the employee is not a resident of Gilliam County. It was shared on the call that employees who work in close contact with the individual were asked to quarantine.

A source with first-hand knowledge informed the Times-Journal on May 4 that two workers at Waste Management were believed to have COVID-19.

According to the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, one worker lives in Gilliam County and the other lives in Morrow County.

The source provided detailed information that was considered to be credible. However, the Oregon Health Authority began disclosing presumed cases of COVID-19 last week. In today’s report, no individuals from Gilliam County have tested positive out of 26 tests completed in the county. Unified Command also said they had not heard of a second case.

The Times-Journal reached out to Waste Management leadership and received a response on May 5, after the Times-Journal newspaper had been sent to print.

In a statement, Senior Area Manager Jackie Lang said that “Waste Management is resolutely committed to the heath and safety of our employees, our customers and our communities. Across the company and at our Arlington sites, company leaders have implemented a long list of safeguards to protect WM employees and everyone who visits our workplaces. These safeguards go beyond WM’s standard practices and PPE protocols.”

The Times-Journal will continue to provide updates as the story develops.

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