2020: A Year Unlike Any Other

As the unprecedented year 2020 comes to an end, here are some highlights on the international, national, and local level as well as an In Memoriam section on the lives lost.

Reading Time: 7 minutes

Few years in American history are so eventful they garner a reputation of their own. 2020 will certainly be one of those historic years. As the year comes to a closing, here are some notable highlights over the past 12 months.


1/16: The impeachment trial of President Donald Trump starts.

The impeachment trial of President Trump commenced following his initial impeachment on December 18, 2019, for abuse of power and obstruction against Congress.

1/30: The World Health Organization (WHO) declares the coronavirus outbreak a global health emergency.

This announcement came at the heel of outbreaks in several countries beyond Wuhan, China, where the virus first emerged in late December 2019. A week before, Wuhan entered its lockdown period (later lifted on April 8). The first case in the United States was identified on January 20 in Washington state.

1/31: The United Kingdom officially withdraws from the European Union.

Otherwise known as Brexit, this decision marks a significant change in the independence of Britain, whose membership has been debated for decades and holds significant consequences for the economy and trade.


2/5: President Trump is acquitted by the Senate.

President Trump is found not guilty in his impeachment trial. The Senate voted to acquit him 52-48 on charges of abuse of power and 53-47 on obstruction of Congress. He would have been the first impeached president to seek re-election.

2/8: The first American citizen dies from the coronavirus.

2/9: “Parasite” makes history as the first film not in the English language to win the Academy Award for Best Picture.

The film, directed by Bong Joon-ho, ultimately won four of six Oscar nominations: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, and Best International Feature Film (the first film from South Korea to be nominated for such a category).

2/11: The WHO officially names the strain of coronavirus “COVID-19.”

As outbreaks and cases increased, the WHO designated an official name for the latest strain of the coronavirus.

2/29: The United States signs a peace deal with Afghanistan.

The U.S. signed a peace deal with the Taliban in Doha, Qatar; the negotiation is the beginning of an intra-Afghan peace process and brings an end to the 13-year-old war.


3/13: Trump declares COVID-19 a national health emergency.

3/16: Mayor Bill de Blasio shuts down all NYC public schools, the largest school system in the nation.

The closures have affected the lives of 1.1 million children, 75,000 teachers, and over one million parents across the city’s 1,800 schools. The city moved to remote learning by March 23.

3/31: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle step down from the Royal Family.

Though the announcement was made in early January, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle officially stepped down from royal duties as of March 31.


4/8: Bernie Sanders drops out of the 2020 Democratic presidential race.

This decision made way for now-President-elect Joe Biden to become the presumptive Democratic nominee and came after several high-profile candidates such as Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg, and Michael Bloomberg dropped out as well.

4/9: Saudi Arabia declares a ceasefire in Yemen.

Saudi Arabia declared a two-week ceasefire in Yemen, the poorest country in the Arab world, due to concerns regarding the coronavirus. This move is monumental, for these two countries had been in a five-year conflict.

4/28: President Jair Bolsonaro is under investigation.

Brazil’s highest court approved an investigation into President Bolsonaro—who was sharply criticized for his controversial handling of the coronavirus—for possibly interfering with police investigations.


5/13: Hong Kong protests resume.

Dormant since January due to COVID-19 concerns, Hong Kong protests against the government resumed after social distancing rules relaxed. Around 230 people were arrested because of violations of social distancing laws.

5/16: Trump fires Steve Linick, the State Department Inspector General.

President Trump fired Steve Linick, the State Department Inspector General, and replaced him with Ambassador Stephen Akard. Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi commented on this decision by stating that Trump firing Linick was part of a “dangerous pattern of retaliation against patriotic public servants.” There has been a record-setting turnover rate in the dismissals and resignations during the Trump Administration.

5/30: NASA and SpaceX’s launch

In collaboration with NASA, SpaceX launched two NASA astronauts to the International Space Station. It was the first crewed spacecraft launch in the U.S. since the end of the space shuttle program back in 2011.


6/5: Biden accepts the Democratic Party nomination.

Biden secured the Democratic nomination for President of the United States.

6/6: The U.S.’s twelfth consecutive day of protests.

Countries across the world, such as Australia and South Korea, have participated in Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests, following the protests that Americans have done for the past twelve days. These protests are part of a larger activist movement to shed light on the racial injustice and discrimination following the unjust deaths of African Americans such as George Floyd. His death ignited a rise of protests never seen before, first starting in the Minneapolis–Saint Paul area and soon spreading throughout the entirety of the country.

6/12: Yemen Humanitarian Crisis

Described by the United Nations as “the world’s worst man-made humanitarian disaster,” Yemen’s humanitarian crisis was brought to light once again. In the midst of a civil war, the country’s population faces hunger and disease such as the cholera outbreak made complicated by COVID-19.


7/9: NYC paints a road mural on Fifth Avenue in support of the BLM movement.

A road mural was painted on Fifth Avenue, across the Trump Tower, to support the BLM movement. The words “Black Lives Matter” were painted in yellow in the stretch of the road and many gathered in support, including de Blasio.

7/18: Fire breaks out in France’s Nantes Cathedral.

The interior of France’s Nantes Cathedral was severely damaged due to a fire incident. It was later found that a Rwandan refugee who volunteers at the cathedral confessed to setting said fire. This incident came just over a year after a fire destroyed the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris, raising concerns about the safety of historic church institutions.

7/18: Protests in Thailand for Monarchy Reform resume.

The protests, centered on reform of the Thai monarchy, started in early 2020, resumed after being halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


8/4: Explosion in Beirut, tearing down cities and streets in Lebanon.

The explosion in Beirut, Lebanon was caused by large amounts of ammonium nitrate and fireworks in a warehouse. There was a set of two explosions that resulted in 204 deaths and 6,500 injuries.

8/12: Biden announces that he has chosen Kamala Harris as his running mate.

Biden announced now-Vice President-elect Kamala Harris as his running mate.

8/16: The United States Postal Service (USPS) is under investigation.

Democratic state attorneys explored legal action against cutbacks and changes at the Postal Service under the leadership of postmaster general and Trump megadonor Louis DeJoy. Democrats also called on top Postal Service officials to testify on Capitol Hill. These moves underscored rising concern over the integrity of the November election and the ability for USPS to handle millions of ballots.

8/29: Protesters set fire to the Portland police union building.

Protesters in Portland, Oregon set fire to the police union building. This happened just after the police had declared a riot against the protestors. Riots and vandalization of government buildings and small businesses have frequently occurred during protests across the country.


9/1: de Blasio postpones the reopening of NYC public schools from September 10 to September 21.

This delay was made in collaboration with several educator unions in order to avert a teachers strike and allow educators more time to prepare.

9/26: Trump moves forward to nominate Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.

This follows the death of the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Barrett was a federal judge in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, a position she was nominated for by President Trump. She would be confirmed on October 26, 2020.


10/2: President Trump and Melania Trump are diagnosed with COVID-19.

Over a dozen people in close relations to the President such as Rudy Giuliani and Kayleigh McEnany tested positive for the virus. President Trump and Melania have since recovered.

10/20: Mass protests escalate in Nigeria, opposing the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) unit.

Originally established in Lagos by police authorities to combat armed robbery, SARS began operating without accountability. Since 2017, groups have been protesting SARS in an effort to dissolve the group. Most recently, on October 20, members of the SARS unit shot at protests, killing at least 38 Nigerians and leaving dozens more injured.

10/26: Judge Barrett was confirmed by the Senate to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Her confirmation makes it so that Republican appointees outnumber Democratic ones by a 6-to-3 margin in the Supreme Court, a fundamental change that pushes the Supreme Court firmly to the right and puts at risk the right to abortion established in Roe v. Wade.


11/7: After four days of vote counting for the presidential election, Biden and Harris are named president-elect and vice president-elect.

Pennsylvania’s votes gave Biden the necessary Electoral College to ensure victory against the incumbent President Trump.

11/17: Former President Barack Obama’s “A Promised Land” is published.

The first of two planned volumes to come, “A Promised Land” has received critical acclaim and is on The New York Times’s list of “The 10 Best Books of 2020.”

11/29: de Blasio reopens public elementary schools after an abrupt decision to close all NYC public schools on November 18.

Middle and high schools remain closed.


12/11: Trump gets shut down 9-0 by the Supreme Court in his attempt to overturn the election results.

The Supreme Court declined to hear the Texas lawsuit seeking to overturn the election results in Georgia, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.

12/14: NYC shuts down indoor dining once again.

It is a significant reversal of the city’s reopening and comes at a time when officials try to alleviate the escalation of a second coronavirus outbreak. It is a blow to the city’s restaurant and service industry.

12/14: Coronavirus deaths pass 300,000 in the United States.

12/14: The Electoral College vote officially affirms President-elect Biden’s victory.

12/14: Sandra Lindsay receives the first coronavirus vaccination in the U.S. outside of a trial on Monday.

Lindsay, an intensive care nurse at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in Queens, is the first of many people deemed most essential or at-risk to receive the vaccine. They include health care workers, nursing home residents and staff, and long-term care facilities. This follows the approval of the Pfizer vaccine by the Food and Drug Administration on December 11.

In Memoriam:

1/26: Kobe Bryant

3/13: Breonna Taylor

5/25: George Floyd

7/17: U.S. Representative John Lewis

8/28: Chadwick Boseman

9/18: Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

11/8: Alex Trebek

11/23: David N. Dinkins

11/27: Diego Maradona

12/7: Chuck Yeager