In late April, poultry processor Pilgrim’s Pride transferred Maria Hernandez from her usual job to another department at its plant in Lufkin, Texas. Her sons say Hernandez’s bosses didn’t give her proper protective gear. And they didn’t warn the 63-year-old that she would be working in a hot spot where other workers had already fallen ill from COVID-19.
When Hernandez, who worked at the plant for 30 years, started feeling sick, she continued to show up for her shift for fear of being fired. On May 8, she was found dead in her home _ one of more than 90 meat and poultry plant workers who’ve succumbed to the virus. More than 17,000 have already been infected.