7 Investigates looks back on covering coronavirus pandemic in 2020

(WSVN) - We’ve said goodbye to 2020, the year, of course, that brought with it a global pandemic. As the year unfolded, the 7 Investigates team was on the front line of the health crisis every step of the way. The Nightteam’s Kevin Ozebek looks back.

As South Florida’s healthcare heroes suited up, so did the 7 Investigates team.

We were the first journalists to go inside the COVID units at Jackson Memorial Hospital.

Kevin Ozebek: “Raise your hand if this has been the most trying, difficult year of your career?”

Nurses: “Yes.”

Chris Polanco, JMH COVID Nurse: “I’ll never forget having patients look me in the eye and ask me if I am going to die. ‘Is today the day I am going to die?’ When you’re in the epicenter and you’re holding someone’s mom’s hands, and she’s asking you, ‘Is this the day?’ And sometimes, it was their day.”

7 Investigates also gave you an exclusive look inside Broward Health Medical Center.

We met nurse Sara Freeman and Dr. Sunil Kumar during the height of the summer surge.

Kevin Ozebek: “Can you describe what it is like right now inside your ICU?”

Dr. Sunil Kumar, Broward Health Medical Center: “It is scary.”

We followed them through the winter surge as vaccine approval was in sight.

Nurse Sara Freeman: “There does seem to be light at the end of the tunnel.”

Frontline healthcare workers are now being inoculated across the country, and they can thank South Floridians like Erica Rodriguez.

Erica Rodriguez, took part in vaccine trial: “I was nervous. I was like, ‘Well, what if there are side effects?'”

We introduced you to Rodriguez as she took part in the Pfizer vaccine trial.

We also got access to this Hollywood lab where the Moderna vaccine was tested.

David Kent, took part in vaccine trial: “One small shot for me, one big shot for mankind.”

We highlighted the incredible work of Drs. Michael Farzan and Hyeryun Choe.

Inside their labs at the Scripps Research campus in Jupiter, he developed his own vaccine. She studied how the virus mutated to become more infectious.

Dr. Hyeryun Choe, Scripps Research: “I work until midnight, 1 a.m.”

Dr. Michael Farzan: “I want to help people. I wish I could stop all infectious diseases.”

While we spoke to the brightest minds fighting the pandemic, we also exposed the failure to contain the spread.

We dug into the state’s contact tracing program after we learned during the July surge, contact tracers weren’t even close to reaching half of those infected.

Kevin Ozebek: “If there was a better contact tracing program in this county during the height of the pandemic, would we be in better shape economically”

Mayor Francis Suarez, Miami: “There’s no doubt. No doubt about it.”

Mayor Dan Gelber, Miami Beach: “When we screw this up, people die. That’s the problem.”

We heard from whistleblower Adrienne Barker, who worked as a contact tracer in Central Florida.

Kevin Ozebek: “In your four weeks on the job, did you ever make one phone call to someone who is COVID-19 positive?”

Adrienne Barker: “No.”

Kevin Ozebek: “Not one”

Adrienne Barker: “Not one.”

We also investigated how to keep you safe throughout the pandemic.

At Florida Atlantic University, Dr. Nwadiuta Esiobu showed us with a cough test that most masks are very effective at blocking COVID spreading droplets.

Dr. Nwadiuta Esiobu, FAU: “Let’s keep the politics out of this, and whenever it is necessary, wear the mask.”

And her colleague, Dr. Patrick Grant, ran experiments showing how if we don’t change out our masks daily, they can become breeding grounds for potentially bad bacteria and fungi.

Kevin Ozebek: “Oh, gross!”

Dr. Patrick Grant, FAU: “I was pretty disturbed to see how much was growing on this.”

In 2021, 7News will continue to investigate as, hopefully, this global health crisis will finally come to an end.

CONTACT 7INVESTIGATES:
305-627-CLUE
954-921-CLUE
clue@wsvn.com

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