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Florida unemployment office closes after employee tests positive for COVID-19

The office closed last week to disinfect offices and common areas.
A worker gets a thumbs up as he hands out paper unemployment applications, Tuesday, April 7, 2020, at Babcock Park in Hialeah.
A worker gets a thumbs up as he hands out paper unemployment applications, Tuesday, April 7, 2020, at Babcock Park in Hialeah. [ WILFREDO LEE | AP ]
Published Jun. 17, 2020

TALLAHASSEE — One of the state unemployment offices in Tallahassee closed last week after an employee tested positive for COVID-19.

The employee works at the Department of Economic Opportunity’s Northwood office, about 10 minutes away from its main headquarters near the Capitol. On Thursday, the employee tested positive, and other employees in the building were notified.

The office closed Friday to disinfect all desks, offices and common areas, according to department spokeswoman Tiffany Vause. Employees were given the chance to work from home that day, she said. Staff were allowed back into the building on Saturday.

“The Department encourages individuals to stay home if they feel sick and to communicate with their managers if you have any questions or concerns,” Vause said in an email.

State employees have been working around the clock to process a historic surge in coronavirus-related unemployment claims. More than 2.5 million unemployment claims have been filed since March 15, and nearly 1.4 million people have started to be paid.

Many of those people have only been paid a fraction of what they’re owed, however, and the state’s unemployment website is routinely taken down for maintenance.

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