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Being No. 1 not so good this time

Being No. 1 not so good this time

By Erick Barrientos
Bridge Staff Intern
Published Thursday, March 25, 2021

While no longer in quite as crucial of a state, the City of Laredo ranked No. 1, in relation to its population, back in late January for U.S. cities affected by the novel coronavirus.

Registered nurse Juan Gallegos said it surprised him by the amount of rising cases in the city. Also unfazed by this news, he acknowledges Laredo’s status as a major land port and the lack of education people received about COVID-19.

The novel coronavirus, which causes COVID-19
courtesy Alissa Eckert | CDC
The novel cornavirus (SARS-CoV-2), which causes the disease COVID-19.

“We have commerce coming in and going out, even with the bridges closed down,” Gallegos said. “There are people crossing every single day [between the two countries].

“Unfortunately, here in Laredo, we are one of the most underserved communities when it comes to health care. We also have a [huge knowledge deficit] when it comes to taking care of themselves on a daily basis; so it’s a culmination of these factors adding up.”

According to the City of Laredo, when the initial message about No. 1 released—in late January—37,761 positive cases confirmed, 2,726 of them active with 592 deaths. In early March, Laredo reached 42,803 positive cases confirmed, 219 active with 788 deaths.

Texas A&M International University junior Alvaro Gomez spoke of his disappointment with the community because it isn’t able to do its part to help fight the pandemic.

“[The city’s] response to the news should have been similar to [that] of [the] shutdown,” Gomez said. “There was this big panic and shutdown, nothing was able to go on while numbers were low.
    “Now that [the COVID-19 numbers] are blowing up, none of that is actually happening.”

Gallegos voiced a similar opinion, with regards to the city’s initial response, but the information provided was given to the community in a timely manner.

“Before the governor had said anything, [the city] shut down all the churches here in Laredo, they shut down business, they shut down night clubs and bars,” he said. “It was very proactive in the sense that they were trying to limit the places people were gathering.

“The problem, I think, when it came to cases and numbers, [included] a lot of information that was coming late so people weren’t really up to date … that is the thing we’re trying to find out. Where is all this information coming from? Is this information reliable?”

He also said the city’s follow-through, with regards to medical care, was inconsistent. There were individuals with COVID-19 who received contact from health care professionals but other people in similar situations were not being checked on.

“The city was trying to manage as best as it can,” Gallegos said. “It’s government, so we know that they don’t have enough staff to do everything for everyone.

“We’ve had [thousands of cases in this city] but we don’t have the manpower to be able to manage that. I understand that city of Laredo did the best it could within the limits it had.”

Gomez said the situation from the start of the pandemic until this March is different because the fear factor of living with COVID-19 is no longer present.

“That’s why you see more people out, at gatherings,” he said. “They just don’t really care.

“It’s to be expected. They have been living with it for a year. You kind of have to normalize it. It’s the same case with other diseases, like with the flu. People still go out and people still die from the flu. Granted, it’s not the same as this … but we’re not staying home because it’s flu season.”

Gallegos hopes people continue to be mindful and stay informed.

“Have patience knowing that this will be over. It will come to an end,” he said. “Fear is something that drives stress, drives impatience and anxiety.

“The more you know, the less likely you’ll get thrown all over the place with all this information.”

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