Looking Back on 2020


2020 was a very, VERY eventful year, and to put things in perspective, here’s a summary of what happened each month.
The new year as well as the new decade started out with an environmental crisis carrying over from 2019, with the Australian bushfires ravaging the country’s natural wildlife habitats – around 500 million animals were killed by the fires at the beginning of the month. Shortly after, President Donald Trump authorized the killing of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani, prompting fears of a war between the US and Iran, along with the short-lived hysteria of a third World War. Iran retaliated soon after, and sent missiles at US bases stationed near Iran as well as mistakenly shot down a Ukrainian passenger plane thought to be American.
The 77th Golden Globe awards occurred on January 5, with media buzz about host Ricky Gervais’ jabs toward the Hollywood elite; Gervais monologued about how celebrities were detached from the real world and “were in no position to lecture the public” (which was best exemplified in later months).
On January 8, Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan Markle stepped down from English royal status but cited no ill will toward Queen Elizabeth II or the rest of the Royal Family after announcing their decision to leave Buckingham Palace.
On January 16, the Senate impeachment trial for President Trump began, and arguments were made over whether to find the president guilty of the two charges against him: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. These charges were determined after President Trump allegedly threatened to unlawfully withhold financial military aid from Ukraine if Ukrainian officials did not divulge information about Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden.
On January 21, the first confirmed case of the novel coronavirus was documented in the US in Washington. On January 26, NBA athlete Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash along with his daughter Gianna Bryant.
A week after the first US coronavirus case was confirmed, the White House Coronavirus Task Force was created by President Trump to monitor the spread of the virus and give Americans more information on its status. On January 31, President Trump imposed travel restrictions on anyone who visited a country with extensive cases of the novel coronavirus; the same day, the United Kingdom left the European Union.
Total global COVID-19 cases/deaths: 12,000+/213
Total US COVID-19 cases/deaths: 8/0

At the start of the month, the Kansas City Chiefs competed against the San Francisco 49ers at Super Bowl LIV, with the Chiefs winning 31-20 and a halftime performance from singers Jennifer Lopez and Shakira.
On February 4, President Trump gave his 2020 State of the Union address, where he invited guests such as conservative talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh, a Tuskegee Airman’s grandson named Iain Lanphier, a World War II veteran and centenarian named Charles McGee, and Jody Jones (whose brother was killed by an illegal immigrant); at the end of President Trump’s address, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi tore her copy of the speech in four pieces in protest. The next day, the Senate voted to acquit President Trump on both charges, ending the impeachment process.
Four days later, the 92nd Oscars had a hostless ceremony and featured a foreign language film winning Best Picture for the first time, with director Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite winning the Oscar (as well as three other Academy Awards).
On February 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) named the novel coronavirus “COVID-19”, an acronym for Coronavirus Disease 2019. Later that week, 300 American passengers on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship were released after being quarantined inside the ship for fourteen days due to passengers and crew testing positive for COVID-19.
On February 23, Ahmaud Arbery was attacked and killed while jogging in Brunswick, Georgia by three men who were recording the incident; the video of his death would not surface until months later and would only then be investigated by local police.
On February 29, a conditional peace agreement was made between the US and the Taliban, prompting a gradual process to send American troops stationed in Afghanistan back home.
Total global COVID-19 cases/deaths: 86,000+/2,900+
Total US COVID-19 cases/deaths: 25/1

Within the span of the first week of March, Democratic presidential candidates Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, Mike Bloomberg, and Elizabeth Warren dropped out of the presidential race.
On March 11, the WHO officially declared COVID-19’s viral spread as a pandemic. The following day, New York City’s Broadway theaters closed down to prevent further spread of COVID-19. The day after that, President Trump declared a national emergency in response to growing COVID-19 cases; meanwhile, police officers in Louisville, Kentucky fatally shot Breonna Taylor six times in her apartment while she was sleeping, mistaking her apartment for the home of unrelated drug offenders.
By March 16, most US universities and schools had shut down indefinitely to prevent further COVID-19 exposure. Two days later, Democratic presidential candidate Kelsi Gabbard dropped out of the presidential race. On March 20, country singer Kenny Rogers died of natural causes.
As a result of state shutdowns such as Michigan’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order, restaurants with indoor dining were closed, plane ticket prices dropped dramatically, sporting events such as NBA’s March Madness were canceled, and theatrical film releases were pushed back toward the end of the year or in 2021. State shutdowns also led to shortages of toilet paper and disinfectant in stores due to hoarders buying up all their inventory of the essential items.
Netflix experienced one of its most successful series releases with its docuseries Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness which gained 34.3 million watches in the show’s first ten days of release according to Nielson; the show focuses on zookeeper Joe Exotic’s life and his feud with his ex-wife/fellow big cat conservationist Carole Baskin.
On March 24, the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics were suspended until the following summer over concerns of infection among athletes and game officials. On March 26, the US surpassed China and Italy in COVID-19 cases and remained above them for the rest of the pandemic. The following day, President Trump signed a $2.2 trillion stimulus bill for COVID-19 relief into law, giving $1,200 to Americans with adjusted gross income below $75,000 and $2,400 to couples earning below $150,000.
Total global COVID-19 cases/deaths: 875,000+/44,000+
Total US COVID-19 cases/deaths: 192,000+/5,000+

Among the initial panic of the shutdowns, misinformation ran rampant about the virus’ origin, symptoms, means of spread, and other attributes; this eventually led YouTube to remove conspiracy videos discussing a connection between 5G and COVID-19 after 5G towers in the UK were vandalized and set on fire. On April 3, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officially recommended wearing facial coverings for people going out in public.
On April 8, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders dropped out of the race, leaving Biden as the presumptive Democratic presidential candidate. A week later, President Trump discontinued US funding for the WHO, accusing the organization of shielding China against investigations into the virus.
On April 12, Pope Francis live-streamed his Easter blessing since precautions at the time prohibited in-person Mass. Three days later, rumors circulated that North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un was on his deathbed or had already died after his absence at national ceremonies caught the attention of the outside world; after twenty days, state media released photos that showed him alive and well.
On April 30, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) selected SpaceX, Blue Origin, and Dynetics to build a lunar lander to carry American astronauts to the Moon for a 2024 mission. The same day, armed protestors entered the State Capitol in Lansing, Michigan to demand an end to the lockdowns put in place by Governor Gretchen Whitmer.
By the end of April, the American unemployment rate had reached 14.7% according to the US Department of Labor, which is the highest it has ever been since the Great Depression.
Total global COVID-19 cases/deaths: 3.2 million+/236,000+
Total US COVID-19 cases/deaths: 1 million+/66,000+

On May 4, tech CEO Elon Musk and musician Claire Boucher AKA Grimes announced that their first child had been born, but then immediately confused social media when they said their child’s name was X Æ A-12 (later changed to X Æ A-XII).
As a result of schools being closed for in-person instruction in March, standardized tests like the SATs/ACTs/AP exams had to be postponed until a later date. In the case of the AP exams, the College Board conducted the AP exams online and modified the test into a 45-minute open-book prompt. However, AP students faced a number of issues with the test, ranging from online submission errors to inopportune testing times. The AP debacle also included an alleged entrapment scheme created by the College Board to catch cheating students by posing as a student-run Reddit page and asking users to submit their test answers and data.
On May 15, President Trump announced Operation Warp Speed, a scientific venture to accelerate testing and development of a COVID-19 vaccine by American pharmaceutical companies such as Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca, and Moderna.
On May 21, President Trump announced the US’s withdrawal from the Open Skies Treaty, a policy allowing countries to maintain awareness of each other’s military forces and activities.
Four days later, George Floyd was killed by police in Minneapolis, Minnesota who were responding to a call from a local store owner who claimed Floyd paid with a counterfeit $20 bill. The following day, Black Lives Matter protests and other racial justice/anti-police brutality demonstrations took place in major US cities in response to the deaths of Floyd, Taylor, Arbery, and other victims of police brutality/racial violence. On May 29, the officer responsible for Floyd’s death was charged with third-degree murder, and the charge was later increased to second-degree murder.
At the end of the month, the first crew-manned flight for SpaceX’s Dragon 2 launched into Earth’s orbit and was the first manned space shuttle flight since 2011.
Total global COVID-19 cases/deaths: 6.1 million+/374,000+
Total US COVID-19 cases/deaths: 1.8 million+/107,000+

On June 1, President Trump cleared Washington DC’s Lafayette Park of protestors by deploying the National Guard and riot police to stand in front of St. John’s Church with a Bible for a photo opportunity. The next day, Blackout Tuesday is observed on social media with users posting a black square on their profiles in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.
On June 15, the Supreme Court ruled in the case of Bostock v. Clayton that it is illegal for employers to discriminate against employees based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. Two days later, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which the Trump administration attempted to end deportation protections for; the program consists of undocumented immigrants known as Dreamers who were brought to the US as children.
On June 20, President Trump held a campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma which was his first public campaign event since March. According to President Trump, “almost one million people” had requested tickets to the event and the rally venue was set to feature an outdoor overflow stage to accommodate the massive crowd. However, the actual crowd in attendance only numbered around 6,200 according to the Tulsa fire department, in contrast to the 19,000 people the arena was able to seat. Social media users who opposed President Trump and his rally credited themselves for the lower than expected attendance, after an online campaign to request tickets and then not actually attend circulated around apps like TikTok and Twitter.
On June 26, President Trump signed an executive order severely prosecuting anyone who destroys or vandalizes public monuments/statues in light of statues of Confederate or slave-owning historical figures being torn down or desecrated.
Total global COVID-19 cases/deaths: 10.4 million+/508,000+
Total US COVID-19 cases/deaths: 2.6 million+/127,000+

At the beginning of the month, Russian citizens voted in favor of an amendment that would allow Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to seek two further six-year terms, possibly extending Putin’s time in office until 2036. The next day, Ghislaine Maxwell, the girlfriend of billionaire sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, was arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for sex trafficking of minors. Two days later, rapper Kanye West announced his bid for the presidency, despite missing the deadline to appear as a third party candidate in six states.
On July 15, multiple celebrities such as Microsoft founder Bill Gates, media personality Kim Kardashian, and former president Barack Obama had their Twitter accounts hacked to promote a Bitcoin scam under the guise of a COVID-19 relief effort. On July 17, civil rights leader and Georgia House Representative John Lewis died of pancreatic cancer. On July 30, NASA successfully launched its 2020 Mars rover mission and landed the Perseverance rover on the planet’s surface with the directive of collecting soil samples and searching for evidence of ancient life; the same day, President Trump began to suggest possibly delaying the election, citing rampant voter fraud through mail-in votes.
The next day, the California wildfire known as the Apple Fire first ignited, and raged across 1,900 acres on its first day. Over time, the wildfire grew so large that the entire sky turned bright crimson for California residents near its area of effect. The smoke from the wildfire even made its way over Michigan skies, resulting in a layer of hazy pink.
Total global COVID-19 cases/deaths: 17.5 million+/675,000+
Total US COVID-19 cases/deaths: 4.5 million+/154,000+

On August 2, the Pentagon publicly released three videos captured by Navy fighter jets that they admitted featured unidentified flying objects or UFOs. Two days after, two ammonium nitrate explosions rocked a harbor in Beirut, Lebanon; the incident killed 220 people and caused $10-15 billion in damage to the surrounding area.
Two days later, President Trump signed an executive order banning all user transactions with the tech company ByteDance over concerns of the company selling American user information to China; under the order, TikTok would have been banned in the US within 45 days if it were not for numerous back-and-forth negotiations between ByteDance and the US government.
On August 11, Democratic nominee Biden selected California Senator and former fellow presidential candidate Kamala Harris as his campaign running mate. A week later, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy suspended the dismantlement and removal of mail sorting machines and mail collection boxes from postal facilities until after the presidential election, after claims were made that these actions were an attempt to slow or prevent mail-in votes on behalf of President Trump’s re-election campaign.
On August 23, the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin prompted more racial justice and anti-police brutality demonstrations in the city.
On August 26, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos became the first person in world history to have a $200 billion+ net worth according to Forbes; the same day, Kyle Rittenhouse fatally shot two people with an AR-15 at the Kenosha protests. Two days later, actor Chadwick Boseman – of Black Panther fame – died of colon cancer.
Total global COVID-19 cases/deaths: 25.5 million+/851,000+
Total US COVID-19 cases/deaths: 6 million+/183,000+

On September 9, President Trump was nominated for the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize for his involvement in the Israel-United Arab Emirates peace deal. That same day, journalist Bob Woodward revealed audio from an interview with President Trump where the president admitted he downplayed the gravity of the pandemic’s initial spread in the US.
On September 18, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg died from complications of pancreatic cancer. Soon after her death, the selection process for her replacement began, defying the justice’s last request that her replacement be chosen after the presidential election. On September 26, President Trump chose Amy Coney Barrett as his pick for Ginsberg’s replacement on the Supreme Court, after contemplating a host of other female candidates.
The next day, President Trump’s tax returns for the last fifteen years were uncovered by the New York Times; according to the NYT, President Trump had paid no federal income taxes for eleven of the fifteen years, only paid $750 in income tax in 2016 and 2017, is $421 million in debt, and had listed $70,000 in tax write-offs for hair treatments alone (some of this was used while filming The Apprentice).
Three days later, the first Presidential Debate between President Trump and Biden took place, with the two presidential candidates discussing their individual public service records, the Supreme Court, the COVID-19 pandemic, race and violence in American cities, election integrity, and the economy. The debate itself was met with harsh criticism by both Republicans and Democrats, with each side claiming the opposing party’s candidate was the aggressor. President Trump repeatedly interrupted both Biden and the debate moderator, Fox News anchor Chris Wallace, and said for the white nationalist group known as the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by” when asked to condemn white supremacy; meanwhile, Biden made snide remarks at President Trump such as calling him a clown and asking him to shut up and stood against the trending progressive movement to defund the police.
Total global COVID-19 cases/deaths: 34 million+/1 million+
Total US COVID-19 cases/deaths: 7.2 million+/207,000+

On October 2, President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump both tested positive for COVID-19, drawing concern for anyone in close contact with them at the prior debate, especially Biden. After being taken to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, the president received multiple experimental antiviral drugs to quicken his recovery. Within three days, President Trump was back in the White House and tested negative a week later.
On October 6, rock band Van Halen’s co-founder and guitarist Eddie Van Halen died after suffering a stroke. Two days later, the FBI charged thirteen men from the Michigan militia group, the Wolverine Watchmen (with members from Downriver communities such as Wyandotte and New Boston), in a plot to kidnap Governor Whitmer from her summer home and take her to Wisconsin for a “trial” to answer for her handling of the pandemic.
On October 26, the Senate confirmed Barrett to the Supreme Court after much ethical debate over admitting a justice to the Supreme Court just weeks before a presidential election; the same day, NASA confirmed the finding of molecular water on Mars, hinting at the possibility of water being trapped under the Martian surface. On October 31, actor Sean Connery died due to a combination of pneumonia-related respiratory failure, irregular heartbeat, and old age.
Total global COVID-19 cases/deaths: 46.1 million+/1.2 million+
Total US COVID-19 cases/deaths: 9.1 million+/231,000+

On November 3, the 2020 US Presidential election occurred with a strong apparent lead for incumbent President Trump on election night; however, mail-in votes and absentee ballots began to be counted in the following days, showing more states flipping in Biden’s favor. President Trump, his legal team, and his supporters rallied behind the claim of election fraud, as foretold by President Trump earlier in the year.
The day after the election, the US formally exited the Paris Agreement, an international treaty with the intent to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and combat climate change.
On November 7, the ballots in all 50 US states had been counted and awarded Biden and Harris victory with a 306-232 count in the electoral college and a popular vote count of 81.2 million according to the Associated Press, which is the highest number of votes cast in US presidential election history. Biden’s victory made him the oldest elected president and made Harris the first Black and South Asian woman to be elected Vice President.
The same day, President Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani held a press conference to announce the status of the Trump campaign’s lawsuits against Pennsylvania’s ballot-counting process in the parking lot of a landscaping business called Four Seasons Total Landscaping, leading media personnel to speculate that the event organizers meant to book the four-star hotel Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia, though the campaign organizers denied it.
On November 8, Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek died after a battle with pancreatic cancer. The next day, Trump’s legal team issued lawsuits in swing states that Biden won, continuing claims of illegal votes being cast in Biden’s favor and votes in President Trump’s favor being sabotaged.
The following day, Sony’s long-awaited PlayStation 5 released in North America and Microsoft’s Xbox Series X followed two days after. The next-gen consoles sold out almost immediately as soon as they were available for online sale, part of which was due to bots.
On November 15, NASA launched the SpaceX Crew-1 mission to board the International Space Station. A week after, the White House allowed the transition to Biden’s administration to begin, amid persistent claims from Republican officials that President Trump won the election as well as the president’s refusal to concede. The next day, Musk surpasses Gates as the world’s second-richest person, having over $127.9 billion.
On November 28, former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson came out of retirement to box in a special event against former light heavyweight boxing champion Roy Jones Jr., with the match concluding in a draw; alongside the Tyson vs Jones Jr. match, YouTuber Jake Paul boxed against NBA athlete Nate Robinson, with Paul winning in the second round via knockout.
Total global COVID-19 cases/deaths: 63.3 million+/1.4 million+
Total US COVID-19 cases/deaths: 13.6 million+/268,000+

At the beginning of December, Oscar-nominated actor Elliot Page came out as transgender to his followers on social media. On December 2, the UK approved the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, making it the first country to do so; the COVID-19 vaccine also became the quickest developed vaccine in history, with its development clocking in at just under twelve months.
The next day, Warner Bros. announced that their entire 2021 movie slate (including blockbusters such as Godzilla vs Kong and The Matrix 4) will feature same-day theatrical and HBOMax premieres; this move further jeopardizes the already-struggling movie theater industry, with the pandemic severely hindering huge American theater chains such as AMC Theaters.
On December 8, a 90-year old UK woman named Margaret Keenan became the first patient in the world to receive the Pfizer vaccine. Three days later, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for emergency use, making it the first COVID-19 vaccine authorized by the US.
On December 13, Pfizer and BioNTech announced they had started shipping their vaccine from a facility in Kalamazoo, Michigan across the US. The next day, the electoral college congregated and cast their votes, confirming President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris’ 306-232 victory. The day after, Pfizer’s vaccine began to be distributed and administered among healthcare workers.
On December 18, US government officials Vice President Mike Pence and Second Lady Karen Pence, House Speaker Pelosi, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell received COVID-19 vaccines; the FDA authorized the Moderna vaccine the same day.
On December 20, a new, more infectious strain of COVID-19 began spreading in Europe and Australia and resulted in border closures in the region as well as travel restrictions being put in place towards affected countries. The next day, President-elect Biden received his COVID-19 vaccine; 36 COVID-19 cases were reported in Chilean Antarctic Territory the same day, officially making all seven continents affected with COVID-19.
On December 25, a bomb inside an RV exploded in Nashville, Tennessee which injured three people and additionally disrupted Internet and cell phone service across the city. Witnesses reportedly heard a recording playing from the RV saying that a bomb would detonate shortly and the bomber was believed to have died in the resulting explosion.
Two days after, President Trump signed a $900 billion stimulus bill for COVID-19 relief into law, giving $600 stimulus checks per person including children.
On December 29, Vice President-elect Harris received her COVID-19 vaccine with her husband. The next day, the UK approved AstraZeneca’s vaccine.
Total global COVID-19 cases/deaths: 83.4 million+/1.8 million+
Total US COVID-19 cases/deaths: 19.9 million+/345,000+

Amid the hectic nature of an unprecedented time in modern history where a global pandemic held the world hostage during an election year all while civil unrest unfolded in major cities, it can prove difficult to remember everything that happened in the middle of it all. 2020 had historic high points as well as unfathomable low points but through it all, the world did what it does best – kept adapting.

*COVID-19 statistics source: Johns Hopkins University