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Nonworking Wildhorse employees to be paid

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Wildhorse Cleaning

Patrick Sasser, a member of the Wildhorse Resort & Casino custodial staff, wipes down slot machines at the casino earlier this month. The tribes' Board of Trustees agreed on Wednesday to pay Wildhorse employees for the next two weeks after announcing the closure of the casino floor and other restrictions to Wildhorse services.

MISSION — While Wildhorse Resort & Casino sent many of its employees home on Wednesday due to concerns over the coronavirus, workers will still get a paycheck in the short term.

A day after the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation announced it would close Wildhorse’s casino floor and impose restrictions on many of its other services, the CTUIR Board of Trustees agreed to pay Wildhorse employees for the next two weeks.

Jiselle Halfmoon, a public information officer for the tribes’ Incident Command Team, said she didn’t know how many people were affected by the resort and casino’s partial closure, but the facility employs nearly 1,000 people.

Pendleton’s top employer and one of the top overall employers in the region, Wildhorse closed the casino floor, either closed restaurants or converted them to takeout, restricted the hotel tower to 100 rooms, suspended shuttle service and closed the courtyard.

Halfmoon said the tribes had resisted shutting down Wildhorse completely to continue offering some level of employment and food and lodging services.

The tribes are considering reassigning Wildhorse employees to other jobs, Halfmoon said, but the tribal government hasn’t made a decision yet.

She said the tribes are also exploring using the courtyard as a potential quarantine zone should the Umatilla Indian Reservation identify a case of COVID-19.

Umatilla County has had two reported cases of coronavirus since the disease reached the United States, and although the first case involved a man who worked at Wildhorse, he was not a tribal member.

The first case closed Wildhorse and other tribal facilities for two days before they were all reopened.

The tribes also put a temporary ban on evictions in CTUIR housing and will keep housing staff on call for urgent or necessary repairs.

The city of Portland and Multnomah County have enacted temporary moratoriums on evictions, a step Gov. Kate Brown has said she isn’t ready to take statewide.

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