NEW YORK TIMES — Each day at around 6 p.m., Dr. Ricardo Cigarroa goes through the same grim ritual. He sits at his desk and counts the dead.

“Five to seven death certificates, that’s how many I’m signing every single day,” Dr. Cigarroa, a 62-year-old cardiologist, said as he stared at the paperwork piling up one afternoon last week. “It only gets worse.”

At the end of the pandemic’s deadliest month, Laredo held the bleak distinction of having one of the most severe outbreaks of any city in the United States. As cases soar, the death toll in the overwhelmingly Latino city of 277,000 now stands at more than 630 — including at least 126 in January alone.

When the virus made its way to the borderlands almost a year ago, the bespectacled Dr. Cigarroa could have just hunkered down. He could have focused on his profitable cardiology practice, which has 80 employees. He could have kept quiet.

Instead, Dr. Cigarroa has become the top crusader and the de facto authority on the pandemic along this stretch of the border with Mexico.

Editor’s Note: Click here to read the full story from Laredo, Texas, by New York Times reporter Simon Romero.


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