While extensive literature exists on the COVID-19 pandemic at regional and national levels, understanding its dynamics and consequences at the city level remains limited. This study investigates the pandemic in Maringá, a medium-sized city in Brazil’s South Region, using data obtained by actively monitoring the disease from March 2020 to June 2022. Despite prompt and robust interventions, COVID-19 cases increased exponentially during the early spread of COVID-19, with a reproduction number lower than that observed during the initial outbreak in Wuhan. Our research demonstrates the remarkable impact of non-pharmaceutical interventions on both mobility and pandemic indicators, particularly during the onset and the most severe phases of the emergency. However, our results suggest that the city’s measures were primarily reactive rather than proactive. Maringá faced six waves of cases, with the third and fourth waves being the deadliest, responsible for over two-thirds of all deaths and overwhelming the local healthcare system. Excess mortality during this period exceeded deaths attributed to COVID-19, indicating that the burdened healthcare system may have contributed to increased mortality from other causes. By the end of the fourth wave, nearly three-quarters of the city’s population had received two vaccine doses, significantly decreasing deaths despite the surge caused by the Omicron variant. Finally, we compare these findings with the national context and other similarly sized cities, highlighting substantial heterogeneities in the spread and impact of the disease.