Annie Grant, 55, had been feverish for two nights. Worried about the coronavirus outbreak, her adult children had begged her to stay home rather than return to the frigid poultry plant in Georgia where she had been on the packing line for nearly 15 years.
But on the third day she was ill, they got a text from their mother. “They told me I had to come back to work,” it said.
Ms. Grant ended up returning home, and died in a hospital on Thursday morning after fighting for her life on a ventilator for more than a week. Two other workers at the Tyson Foods poultry plant where she worked in Camilla, Ga., have also died in recent days.
“My mom said the guy at the plant said they had to work to feed America. But my mom was sick,” said one of Ms. Grant’s sons, Willie Martin, 34, a teacher in South Carolina. He said he watched on his phone as his mother took her last breath
The coronavirus pandemic has reached the processing plants where workers typically stand elbow-to-elbow to do the low-wage work of cutting, deboning and packing the chicken and beef that Americans savor. Some plants have offered financial incentives to keep them on the job, but the virus’s swift spread is causing illness and forcing plants to close.
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