TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The novel coronavirus was first discovered in the U.S. on Jan. 21, 2020. It wasn’t until March 11 that a global pandemic was declared, effectively changing life as we know it. By March 26, the U.S. led the world in confirmed cases with more than 81,000. By April 2, there were more than 1 million cases worldwide.

On the one-year anniversary of the pandemic, there are three vaccines going out across the U.S., giving us hope the end is in sight. But that doesn’t mean we’re out of the woods yet.

Florida has been in the national spotlight ever since the first cases showed up in Manatee and Hillsborough counties. From packed beaches and scrutiny over crowds, ignoring social distancing guidelines to businesses shutting down completely, it has been messy navigating through this pandemic.

Positive case numbers of people stayed low during the nearly two months of shut down, and then as restrictions were lifted Floridians got a little too anxious to get back to normal and cases skyrocketed. This first wave peaked with nearly 14,000 new cases in one day. Restrictions were put back into place and some hard lessons were learned.

“The one thing that I found out about this past year is that you can never count on human nature. I think one of the things that we’ve known and it’s been emphasized in the last year is that a lot of the ability to block transmission really resides in us. So if we’re really serious about it we can block transmission,” said Dr. Michael Teng with USF Health.

We have seen that as case numbers have dropped, but then gone back during and after the holidays when people were traveling and congregating. That second wave we hit our peak in January. We saw nearly 20,000 new coronavirus cases in one day.

Things have gotten better and much of that can probably be attributed to the vaccine distribution, but we’re still not out of the woods. The average number of new cases have dropped but Florida now has nearly 2 million people infected since the pandemic started. Nearly 32,000 Floridians have died.

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