2020 in headlines: All the biggest news stories of the year

Grab a cup of tea and settle in. This is going to take awhile!

Hospital workers, including ER RN Adele Rushneck-Feeney, at right, watch outside the Westchester Medical Center as first responders pass by in a caravan of sirens and lights on April 14 in Valhalla, New York. The first responders arrived in EMS ambulances, fire department trucks and police vehicles to give thanks to health care workers for their efforts in combating the coronavirus pandemic in Westchester County, N.Y. (John Moore, Getty Images)

What a year it was -- 2020 was truly one for the books.

We don’t need to beat around the bush much; you know the whirlwind that constituted this crazy year. So without further ado ... all the things you’re going to tell your grandchildren someday:

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Bushfires in Australia rage on

Residents look on as flames burn through bush on Jan. 4 in Lake Tabourie, Australia. A state of emergency had been declared across New South Wales. At that time, Getty Images said, 1,365 homes were lost, while 3.6 million hectares have been burnt this fire season. (Getty Images)

Although these started in late 2019, Australia continued battling a devastating wildfire season in January. At least 33 people died, along with thousands of animals; families were displaced, and at least 27.2 million acres of bush, forest and parks across the country were burned, according to the BBC. It was considered a state of emergency as fire officials worked to get the situation under control.

Iranian general Qasem Soleimani killed in a drone strike by the U.S.

This made for a shocking event Jan. 3, and many feared that U.S. President Donald Trump was leading the nation into a third world war. Luckily, tensions were de-escalated. Read more about what happened.

Duke and Duchess of Sussex step down as ‘senior’ royals

Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, react after their visit to Canada House in thanks for the warm Canadian hospitality and support they received during a January stay. (DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

No one saw it coming Jan. 8 when Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announced they were stepping down from some of their duties in the royal family. They said they would be financially independent and split their time between the U.K. and North America.

A Ukrainian flight crashes in Iran

This also happened Jan. 8. The 176 crew members and passengers on board were killed. The initial Iranian military statement said the plane’s downing was due to “human error” after the aircraft had flown close to a “sensitive site” belonging to Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps, according to the BBC. The commercial airliner was mistaken for a “hostile plane,” the statement said.

World Health Organization announces novel coronavirus

A man wears a mask while walking in the street on Jan. 22 in Wuhan, Hubei province, China. A new infectious coronavirus known as "2019-nCoV" has been discovered in Wuhan. (2020 Getty Images)

On Jan. 9, the World Health Organization first announced news about the deadly coronavirus that had emerged in Wuhan, China.

On Jan. 21, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the United States’ first case. A Washington state resident became the first person with a confirmed case of the novel coronavirus, having returned from Wuhan on Jan. 15.

In a matter of months, the virus proceeded to spread across the globe.

Trump’s impeachment trial begins

On Jan. 16, the official impeachment trial for President Trump got underway. It didn’t last long, as it started in the U.S. Senate and concluded with Trump’s acquittal on Feb. 5. Trump had been impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives on Dec. 18, 2019, charging him with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

Kobe Bryant, daughter Gianna, seven others die in helicopter crash

Gianna Bryant and her father, former NBA player Kobe Bryant, are shown at the WNBA All-Star Game at the Mandalay Bay Events Center on July 27, 2019 in Las Vegas. (Getty Images)

The group was heading to a girls basketball tournament Jan. 26 when their chopper crashed in thick fog just northwest of Los Angeles.

Kobe was 41 and Gianna was 13. The deaths shook Los Angeles and the sporting world, with memorials spanning the city and tributes at the Super Bowl and other games. Here’s what we know, and what officials are still trying to determine.

U.K. officially withdraws from the European Union

On Jan. 31, after years in the making, Brexit became a reality.


Kansas City Chiefs squeak past the San Francisco 49ers to win Super Bowl

Patrick Mahomes, of the Kansas City Chiefs, raises the Vince Lombardi Trophy after defeating the San Francisco 49ers 31-20 in Super Bowl LIV at Hard Rock Stadium on Feb. 2 in Miami. (Getty Images)

On Feb. 2, Chiefs quarterback Mahomes took home MVP honors in Super Bowl LIV after leading his team from a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit to its second-ever Lombardi Trophy -- and its first in 50 years.

Kansas City topped San Francisco by a score of 31-20.

The Iowa Caucus was kind of a meltdown

This situation started Feb. 4, although the country didn’t get a winner right away. The Iowa Democratic Party certified the results at the end of the month, confirming Mayor Pete Buttigieg as the winner.

The caucus process was plagued by reporting errors and issues with a new app. In the end, Buttigieg was awarded 14 delegates, Sen. Bernie Sanders was awarded 12 delegates, Sen. Elizabeth Warren was awarded eight delegates, then-Sen. Joe Biden was awarded six delegates and Sen. Amy Klobuchar was awarded one delegate.

Trump is acquitted

President Donald Trump holds a copy of The Washington Post as he speaks in the East Room of the White House, one day after the U.S. Senate acquitted on two articles of impeachment. After five months of congressional hearings and investigations about Trump’s dealings with Ukraine, the U.S. Senate formally acquitted him of charges. (Getty Images)

As mentioned, Trump was acquitted, after five months of hearings and investigations about his dealings with Ukraine.

The Boy Scouts of America file for Title 11 bankruptcy

On Feb. 18, the news was confirmed. The Boy Scouts had been exploring this possibility since at least December 2018, according to NPR, when the group hired a law firm for a possible filing. The Boy Scouts face about 300 lawsuits from men who say they were sexually abused as Scouts. The organization has said it will use the Chapter 11 process to create a trust to provide compensation to victims.

Harvey Weinstein found guilty

Movie producer Harvey Weinstein, at right, enters New York City Criminal Court on Feb. 24 in New York City. (2020 Getty Images)

The former movie producer was found guilty of third-degree rape and first-degree criminal sexual acts.

It was the allegations against Weinstein that sparked the #MeToo movement in 2017.

A mass shooting at Miller Brewery

On Feb. 26, an electrician for the Molson Coors Beverage Company shot five co-workers to death, along with himself, at the former Miller brewery in Milwaukee. He was later identified as Anthony Ferrill, 51. The incident marked one of the worst shootings in Wisconsin history, this newspaper said.

It was a leap year

So we got some extra time in February, as well.


In March, many stay-at-home orders went into place, businesses shut their doors to in-person customers and diners, schools started shutting down or moving to online spaces and self-quarantine was recommended -- all to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Things were handled differently in each state, but for many, this is when the world truly began to feel surreal. Face coverings weren’t mandated right away, but a lot of us went out and bought or made masks to keep ourselves safe while performing essential (and unavoidable) tasks like grocery shopping.

Pandemic triggers global recession

In early to mid-March, the coronavirus pandemic led to some scary times on the stock market front as numerous countries went into lockdown. The Dow Jones industrial average saw some of its worst days in March 9, 12 and 16. Here’s a graphic that illustrates what we mean. Read more from Forbes.

Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson diagnosed with COVID-19

Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson attend the 92nd Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood and Highland on Feb. 9. (2020 Jeff Kravitz)

On March 11, this powerhouse couple became the first major celebrities to announce they were sick.

NBA suspends season

On March 11, the NBA officially suspended the season due to COVID-19, becoming the first league to halt play. Other sports eventually followed suit. Utah Jazz guard Rudy Gobert was among the first athletes to test positive for coronavirus -- and had acted carelessly in the days leading up to his diagnosis. He touched the digital recorders of reporters who had placed them in front of Gobert after an interview, and reportedly made light of the issue inside the locker room.

NCAA cancels men’s and women’s basketball tournaments

On March 12, the NCAA canceled its men’s and women’s basketball tournaments because of the spread of coronavirus. The remaining winter and spring championships were called off, as well. March Madness had never been canceled before.

Olympics are postponed

A man wearing a face mask walks past a Tokyo 2020 Olympics countdown clock that had to be adjusted for the new start date of July 23, 2021. (2020 Getty Images)

On March 24, it became official: The Olympics would be postponed. They were supposed to start in Tokyo on July 24, but they’re now set for July 23, 2021.

Fun fact: If the situation still doesn’t feel comfortable by the time the new 2021 date rolls around, the Games wouldn’t be postponed once again -- they’d be canceled altogether.


Sanders drops out of the presidential race

On April 8, this news was made official. The other Democratic candidates had already pulled the plug on their campaigns, leaving Biden to be the presumptive nominee.

The deadliest mass shooting in Canadian history

Children sign a Canadian flag at an impromptu memorial April 20 in Enfield, Nova Scotia, Canada. (Getty Images)

On April 18, a man killed 22 people in Nova Scotia. Authorities said Gabriel Wortman wore a police uniform and made his car look like a Royal Canadian Mounted Police cruiser, allowing him to travel easily within a 30-mile area, where the rampage began. A police officer was among those killed.

Kim Jong-Un ‘alive and well’

On April 27 -- after a lot of confusion, conspiracies and rumors -- South Korea told the media that Kim Jong-Un was “alive and well,” even though there was mass speculation that the dictator had died.


On April 29, the Pentagon released videos of possible UFOs. It was unclear what exactly the objects flying the sky were (obviously), but it sure was creepy.


In May, we learned the death toll from COVID-19 had surpassed 100,000. The U.S. was, and remains, the place hit hardest when it comes to deaths -- as our numbers are higher than any other nation in the world.

‘Murder hornets’ introduced

Jenni Cena, pest biologist and trapping supervisor from the Washington State Department of Agriculture, sets a trap designed to catch Asian Giant Hornets, also known as murder hornets. (2020 Getty Images)

On May 4, it was reported that giant insects called “murder hornets” were spotted in the U.S., specifically, Washington state. If stung multiple times, a person can die from the murder hornet.

Ahmaud Arbery video shocks the nation

On May 6, video footage showing the death of Ahmaud Arbery was released. The video was from February -- and it showed Arbery, who is black, being gunned down and killed by two white men while he was jogging, unarmed, in a Georgia neighborhood.

Celebrities and politicians weighed in, including Trump, who called the footage “very, very disturbing,” and Biden, who said Arbery had essentially been “lynched before our very eyes.”

George Floyd killed

LED candles are placed beneath a portrait of George Floyd during a birthday celebration for him at a memorial site known as "George Floyd Square" on Oct. 14 in Minneapolis. (Getty Images)

On May 25, Floyd was killed by a Minneapolis officer who had his knee on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes as the unarmed man told police he couldn’t breathe. Floyd’s death caused an uproar, with protests popping up worldwide. Floyd was 46 years old. The disturbing circumstances of his killing were caught on camera, as well.

First human spaceflight by SpaceX

On May 30, the first human spaceflight by SpaceX marked the return of astronaut launches from the United States (for the first time in nine years). SpaceX also became the first private company to launch astronauts.


The Black Lives Matter movement ramps up

Terrence Floyd, the brother of George Floyd, speaks at a candlelight vigil in celebration of George Floyd's 47th birthday on Oct. 14 in New York City. (Getty Images)

Following the deaths of Arbery, Floyd and Breonna Taylor -- who was shot and killed by Louisville police officers in March during a botched raid (more on Taylor’s circumstances soon) -- Black Lives Matter gains more and more visibility nationwide, with events happening across the country protesting social injustice.

Another police-involved shooting death grabs headlines

A family member carries the Celebration of Life program during Rayshard Brooks' funeral in Ebenezer Baptist Church on June 23 in Atlanta. (Getty Images/Pool)

On June 12, Rayshard Brooks, a Black man, was shot by police in the parking lot of a Wendy’s restaurant in Atlanta. He was 27 years old. Protests followed and continued -- in Atlanta and throughout the country, involving the ongoing racial unrest.

High court blocks Trump from ending DACA

On June 18, the Supreme Court stopped the Trump administration’s attempt to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, an Obama-era program that protects hundreds of thousands of immigrants brought to the U.S. as children from deportation, according to CNN.

Officer fired in Breonna Taylor case

On June 23, a police officer involved in Taylor’s shooting in Louisville, Kentucky, was terminated more than three months after Taylor’s death. Detective Brett Hankison was one of three officers placed on paid administrative leave, but the only one who lost his job or faced charges. He’s accused of wanton endangerment. The other two officers who fired their weapons at Taylor’s apartment, Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly and Detective Myles Cosgrove, will not face criminal charges, according to reports.

Name changes, brand changes now underway

On June 25, we learned the band once known as the Dixie Chicks would now just be The Chicks -- in a move that distanced the group from a name associated with the Confederate-era South. The switch wasn’t made with any kind of official announcement or explanation, but simply with the release of a new song, NPR reported. Other brands, artists and entertainers made similar changes in light of the racial justice movement.

Bubba Wallace situation

Bubba Wallace, driver of the No. 43 McDonald's Chevrolet, wears an "I Can't Breathe - Black Lives Matter" T-shirt under his firesuit in solidarity with protesters around the world. (Getty Images)

In late June, NASCAR released an image of what appeared to be a noose found in Bubba Wallace’s garage -- but it was later determined that he was not the target of a hate crime, according to the Department of Justice.

The FBI determined that the garage door pull-rope had been mistaken for a noose and that it had been there since at least last fall.


City workers prepare to remove the statue of Col. Charles Didier Dreaux, the first Confederate officer from Louisiana killed during the Civil War, after it was pulled from its pedestal on South Jefferson Davis Parkway on July 10 in New Orleans. The statue, one of several vandalized this week, was one of many located throughout New Orleans that protestors say celebrates white supremacy. (Getty Images)

It was around this time when Confederate statues started coming down across the U.S., but it wasn’t without controversy. Many statues have been criticized as serving as racist symbols of America’s dark past, and the country’s legacy of slavery.

Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged madam nabbed on sex-trafficking charges

Ghislaine Maxwell attends the ETM Children's Benefit Gala on May 6, 2014 in New York City. (WireImage/Getty Images)

On July 2, British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, an associate of Jeffrey Epstein, was arrested by the FBI at a remote property in New Hampshire. She now faces multiple charges related to the sex abuse of young women and girls by Epstein. Maxwell is accused of helping to recruit, train and traffic the young women. “Today, after many years, Ghislaine Maxwell finally stands charged for her role in these crimes,” the Department of Justice said in a written statement.

Epstein died in August 2019.

NBA returns

On July 7, the first NBA players arrived to a “bubble” environment at Walt Disney World, nearly four months after the season had been suspended. Playoffs took place in the bubble, with extensive COVID testing and rules about who was allowed in. Most games played without any fans in attendance. It looked strange on TV, as did most professional sports playing for empty stadiums, but the NBA was the first (and only) league to do this kind of “bubble,” which seemed to be effective in preventing the spread of COVID amongst the athletes. Read more about how it all worked.


West Coast wildfires were in full force this month, as is somewhat typical for this time of year.

This season, however, was especially scary. Severe August thunderstorms ignited numerous wildfires across California, Oregon, and Washington, which were followed in early September by additional ignitions across the West Coast. (Although the photo below is also from September, August is largely the month when the fiery situation started). Check out some of these maps and graphics.

A firefighter keeps watch as flames advance along the Western Divide Highway during the SQF Complex Fire on Sept. 14 near Camp Nelson, California. The SQF Complex Fire has grown to more than 90,000 acres and burned scores of homes. California wildfires have already incinerated a record 2.3 million acres this year and are expected to continue. (Getty Images)

Explosion shocks Beirut

Emergency workers search a collapsed building on Aug. 6 in Beirut, Lebanon. That Thursday, the official death toll from Tuesday's blast stood at 137, with thousands injured. Public anger swelled over the possibility that government negligence over the storage of tons of ammonium nitrate was behind the catastrophe. (Getty Images)

On Aug. 4, a massive explosion at a Beirut port killed at least 190 people and injured thousands of others. As the World Health Organization explained, “(It wounded) a fragile population already facing civil unrest, an ongoing socio-economic crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Biden picks running mate

On Aug. 11, Biden named California Sen. Kamala Harris as his running mate. It was a history-making move as his selection marked the first Black woman to compete on a major party’s presidential ticket. Harris ran against Biden earlier this year and seemed to be a strong contender before eventually dropping out of the race for the White House. The 55-year-old first-term senator is also of South Asian descent.

Biden snags the nomination

Then-Democratic presidential candidate and former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden addresses a crowd at a town hall event (file photo). (Getty Images)

On Aug. 18, on the second night of the (virtual) 2020 Democratic National Convention, the party officially nominated Biden. He, of course, accepted -- and had already chosen Harris as his partner.

Man shot by an officer in Kenosha, Wisconsin

On Aug. 23, Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, was paralyzed from the waist down after being shot by an officer in Kenosha, a city located between Chicago and Milwaukee. The officer shot at Blake’s back seven times when Blake opened the driver’s door to his SUV and leaned in, according to reports.

And then two nights later in Kenosha ...

During the Kenosha demonstrations, a 17-year-old named Kyle Rittenhouse from Illinois shot three protesters, killing two of them. He was armed, allegedly illegally, with an AR-15 style rifle, purchased with money from his coronavirus stimulus check, according to reports. Rittenhouse was arrested at his home a day after the Aug. 25 shootings. He now faces felony homicide and attempted homicide charges, among other counts.

Milwaukee Bucks boycott NBA playoff game

On Aug. 26, the team refused to play its matchup against the Orlando Magic, and other teams followed suit. The Bucks were protesting the Jacob Blake police shooting in Wisconsin. It was considered historic -- read why.

Chadwick Boseman dies at the age of 43

Actor Chadwick Boseman speaks onstage at a CinemaCon event at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace, April 2, 2019 in Las Vegas. (Getty Images for CinemaCon)

On Aug. 28, the world learned actor Chadwick Boseman (T’Challa in “Black Panther”) had died of colon cancer. This came as a shock considering Boseman had kept his diagnosis private -- and starred in major roles as of fairly recently. Boseman also played groundbreaking figures like James Brown, Jackie Robinson and Thurgood Marshall. He was 43.


This month, the death toll from the novel coronavirus passed 200,000 in the U.S. This online dashboard from Johns Hopkins can put the numbers into some perspective, or truly illustrate the grim reality, if you’d like to learn more or view more context.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at the age of 87

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sept. 12, 2019, in Washington, D.C. (Getty Images)

On Sept. 18, Ginsburg died due to complications from metastatic pancreas cancer. Ginsburg had been a justice on the Supreme Court since 1993, when she was nominated by then-President Bill Clinton. Ginsburg went on to become a feminist icon -- and was only the second woman to be appointed to the position on the high court. Learn more about her life.

Lightning win the Stanley Cup

Kevin Shattenkirk of the Tampa Bay Lightning celebrates at a victory rally and boat parade on the Hillsborough River on Sept. 30 in Tampa. (Getty Images)

The NHL was able to finish out its season, and in the end, on Sept. 28, the Lightning topped the Dallas Stars for the team’s second Stanley Cup, final score 2-0, in an empty Rogers Place arena in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.


POTUS, FLOTUS test positive

On Oct. 2, Trump, along with first lady Melania Trump, tested positive for COVID-19. President Trump was treated at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, and released after three days without any further complications.

Lakers win it all

LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers celebrates with teammate Quinn Cook and others after winning the NBA Championship in Game 6 against the Miami Heat, Oct. 11. (Getty Images)

On Oct. 11, the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Miami Heat in NBA Finals to win another championship.

Introducing: Amy Coney Barrett

Judge Amy Coney Barrett, then a nominee for Supreme Court, poses for a photo before a meeting on Oct. 1 in Washington, D.C. (Pool/Getty Images)

Although some controversy swirled about the timing of her nomination and the fact that it’s an election year -- on Oct. 26-27, the Senate voted to confirm Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court, with all but one member of the Republican Party voting in favor and all Democrats voting against.

Barrett took the judicial oath on Oct. 27, replacing Ginsburg.

Dodgers’ first World Series victory since 1988

The Los Angeles Dodgers celebrate after Julio Urias strikes out Willy Adames of the Tampa Bay Rays to give the Dodgers the 3-1 victory in Game 6 to win the World Series, Oct. 27. (Getty Images)

It seems as though the Dodgers make it to the postseason -- and far into the postseason -- every year, but on Oct. 27, they won the World Series, which hadn’t happened since the late ‘80s.

This year’s victory game in Game 6 against the Tampa Bay Rays.


Election Day draws huge crowds

On Nov. 3, people could turn in their ballots, if they hadn’t already, or head to the polls in person to vote in the General Election. Turnout was massive -- more on this soon!

Joe Biden named president-elect

President-elect Joe Biden announces members of his climate and energy appointments Dec. 19 in Wilmington, Delaware. Secretary of Interior nominee, Congresswoman Deb Haaland, is the first Native American nominated to the presidential cabinet. (Getty Images)

Although the election was held Nov. 3, it took some time for results to become clear and eventually finalized. But on Nov. 7, Biden became the president-elect. He is set to become the 46th president of the United States. Inauguration is planned for Jan. 20, 2021, although Trump has yet to concede.

Voter turnout sets records

Election workers process ballots on Nov. 3 in Renton, Washington. (Getty Images)

The projected vote total -- 159.8 million -- marks a record number of ballots cast in a presidential election, and the highest voter turnout rate among eligible citizens since 1900, according to this report. The numbers were especially impressive considering the ongoing pandemic. More people than ever voted by mail this year.

A big hurricane season comes to a close

Flood waters from Hurricane Delta surround structures destroyed by Hurricane Laura on Oct. 10 in Creole, Louisiana. Hurricane Delta made landfall near Creole as a Category 2 storm, initially leaving some 300,000 customers without power. (Getty Images)

Hurricane season came to an end in late November, and it was an eventful one. There were a record-breaking 30 named storms in the Atlantic Hurricane Season, meaning that meteorologists had to resort to letters of the Greek alphabet after running out of names.

People encouraged not to travel for Thanksgiving

Considering where the world still stands with COVID-19, many experts and groups, including the CDC, advised against traditional celebrations and family gatherings. But travel numbers were at all-time (pandemic) high, according to CNN.


This month, the coronavirus death toll passed 300,000. And it’s still growing.

Election certified

On Dec. 9, the election results were certified, with West Virginia the final state to confirm.

Light at the end of the tunnel?

On Dec. 11, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued the first emergency-use authorization for a vaccine for the prevention of coronavirus.

On Dec. 14, a nurse in New York was among the first people in the U.S. to receive a COVID-19 vaccine -- which is now being administered to health care workers on the front lines of the pandemic.

We now have two vaccines approved by the FDA at this time: one developed by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech, and another from Moderna. Once everyone is able to have access to a vaccine, life should get back to some sense of normalcy, infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci said recently.

Michelle Chester, director of employee health services at Northwell Health, shows the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at Long Island Jewish Valley Stream Hospital on Dec. 21 in Valley Stream, New York. (Pool/Getty Images)

Trump’s next move remains unknown

For the first time in history, an incumbent president won’t concede the race. A lot of mystery swirls as the year winds down and Biden is set to take office.

So, what happens next? Only time will tell. Here’s hoping things are a little bit more relaxing in 2021.