Rural Reporting Project

Texas has the largest rural population of any state—3.8 million people—yet many journalists treat much of the state as flyover country. The Observer has made reporting on rural Texas a priority with this long-term project. Staff writer Christopher Collins, who has investigated how crop dusting is putting Texans’ health at risk and the connection between destructive Panhandle wildfires and a mismanaged federal land program, is spearheading the effort from West Texas. View an interactive story map here.

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A West Texas Nursing Home Sent Its COVID-Positive Residents Elsewhere. Now Two of Them Are Dead.

Texas allows nursing homes to voluntarily accept COVID-positive patients from hospitals and other nursing homes. But there are no additional safeguards for the people sent there, and some of the facilities have a history of breaking rules.

John Wayne McDermett used to manage nursing homes. Now he lives in one. After serving 12 years as a rural county judge and working a stint as a disc jockey at a...Read More

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Workers at Tyson Poultry Plant in East Texas Say the Company Put Them at Risk of COVID-19

Tyson employees interviewed by the Observer say that as the coronavirus spread through the facility in April, the company failed to notify them of the danger in a timely manner so they could protect themselves.

Officials at Tyson’s poultry processing plant in Shelby County may have waited weeks to tell workers that an employee had tested positive for COVID-19, preven...Read More

industrial chicken farm by and

COVID-19 Cases Now Tied to Meat Plants in Rural Texas Counties Wracked with Coronavirus

The outbreaks, which are being investigated by the state health agency, represent the first reported cases of the virus inside Texas meatpacking plants, and are in rural areas where medical resources are already stretched thin.

A meatpacking plant in Deep East Texas appears to be connected to an outbreak of COVID-19 in a rural part of the state where the number of coronavirus cases has...Read More

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