By Team

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – It was exactly one year ago when the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a worldwide pandemic.

In the beginning, we noticed COVID-19 outbreaks on cruise ships. Some of those docking at Port Everglades and Port Miami.

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Around that same time, our lives quickly changed.

South Florida and the nation began locking down as coronavirus cases exploded with many of us staying home.

Businesses were forced to close, causing thousands to lose their jobs.

Our schools shut down for in-person learning.

Major events like the Ultra Music Festival and Calle Ocho were canceled. The whole time, our hospitals were filling up with very sick people.

Congressman Carlos Gimenez was Mayor of Miami-Dade at the time and one of the most visible leaders. He made decisions that impacted millions.

“We had to close the restaurants, bars, gyms, closed office buildings. A lot of people sat home and that was a very tough decision. It was the economy or people’s lives,” said Gimenez.

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Our lives changed again in December, this time, for the better as vaccines began rolling into South Florida.

“We’ve been in this journey now for 10 months. Our first patient came to us in March the 7th and now for the first time, we’re seeing light at the end of the tunnel,” said Aurelio Fernandez, Memorial Healthcare CEO.

Now thousands are being vaccinated daily.

Another sign of progress, a triage tent outside the Memorial ER is coming down after a year.

“Here we are in 2021 removing the tent and I think we’re at a point in the pandemic where were can really look in the rearview mirror and assume that we’re in the tail end of this,” said Dr. Katz.

Despite all the drastic measures, a year later, we have had more than 631,000 cases in South Florida and nearly 8,200 deaths. But leaders here are looking forward with optimism.

Miami Mayor Francis Suarez pointing to the $140 million dollars going to Miami from President Biden’s American Rescue Plan.

“Now, we’re going to get the relief that we need to not only make sure our budget is shored up and not have to let go first responders which we were looking to potentially do after the last budget cycle but of course to help the countless people that need food, that need rental assistance emergency assistance and small business assistance,” said Mayor Suarez.

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“I think we need to move forward as a country as we get more and more people vaccinated. Once we get to a certain number of people vaccinated, we can open up and go back to normal,” said Gimenez. Team