CACTUS — They came by the thousands in search of jobs and a haven, and in the meatpacking plants of the Texas Panhandle, they found both. The work was grueling, but the pay was good, and they felt safe.
Then a new danger reared its head. The crowded plants became petri dishes for the novel coronavirus. In May, the region had the highest infection rate in Texas. Hundreds of cases were tied to the plants.
Gov. Greg Abbott sent health-care specialists to the Panhandle to test workers and stem the outbreak. More than three months later, the workers still are struggling with the effects of the pandemic and the persistent fear of contracting the disease.
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