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  • Jerome Kim

An Overview Of 2020

Updated: Nov 12, 2022

If I had an eraser that could erase anything, I would erase the year 2020 from the calendar. 2020 has taken millions of lives, brought about a pandemic, led people to the streets, generated economic collapse, and implemented the presidential election. Compared to 2019, every day was a living nightmare in 2020, and the news was filled with word of deaths, protests, and COVID-19 cases. This year proved that we are powerless in front of natural disasters like infectious diseases. It also gave us an idea of what the world will be like in the next century.

The First Quarter

2020 started off with the devastating news that took away shelters for humans and animals. The tragedies began with Australian bushfires that started in June 2019. The fires killed nearly three billion animals in Australia, burned more than 10 million hectares of land, and destroyed over 3000 houses. The world thought that this would be the only misfortune of the year. Little did we know, it was just the tip of the iceberg.

NBA’s legendary player, Kobe Bryant, was killed in a helicopter crash with his daughter on January 26, 2020. Hundreds and thousands of NBA fans around the world mourned for the death of Kobe. The news was filled with word about Kobe’s death, and fans across the country paid respect to the legendary NBA star by gathering in ceremonial assemblies in many major cities in the United States.

Without the time to recover from what the world has experienced, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced the discovery of a new virus, called Coronavirus, on February 11, which was first identified in Wuhan, China. The virus's official name is COVID-19, which is an abbreviation for "coronavirus disease in 2019." The virus primarily attacks the lungs and the nearby organs, making it difficult for the patient to breathe, and weakening the immune system. Compared to other well-known respiratory diseases like SARS and MERS, COVID-19 has the lowest death rate, around 1-1.5 percent. However, it has the highest infection rate and a long incubation period. People did not think the virus would spread worldwide, take millions of lives, and cause people to panic. In March 2020, COVID-19 was identified as a global pandemic by the WHO and the spreading of the virus continued for the whole year. There is no reliable cure to treat the virus as of right now.

President Donald Trump, however, did not believe the pandemic was an issue even though thousands of people were infected every day. The number of COVID-related cases shot up to the point where nobody could stop it. Stock investors started selling their stocks as the situation escalated, and as a result, the market crashed. The stock market crash began on 20 February and ended on 7 April. Many experts have said that it was the fastest fall in global stock markets in financial history and the most devastating crash since the Great Depression in 1929. Furthermore, due to the virus’s high infection rate, people started to work from home, negatively impacting many local businesses. The companies inevitably had to cut down on the number of employees due to their shortage of capital; therefore, millions of people lost jobs, houses, and families.

The Second Quarter

The second quarter of 2020 showed racial discrimination and excessive police suppression. On May 25, 2020, an African American man named George Floyd, who lived in Minneapolis, was killed by a white police officer named Derek Chauvin. The police officer handcuffed Floyd for allegedly using counterfeit bills. Chauvin kept his knee on Floyd's neck for eight minutes, even when Floyd desperately asked for a moment to breathe. He died at the site, in front of many passersby, and the world spoke out against police officer’s inhumane brutality. This incident sparked remarks against excessive police suppression and started the Black Lives Matter movement.

The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement was a social movement advocating for non-violent civil disobedience against police brutality. The movement was one of the largest and most violent protests that occurred in many states. Protesters demonstrated their anger by breaking into stores, attacking police officers, and marching in public spaces. Many shops, restaurants, and other facilities were broken, and protesters stole merchandise. The protest left 19 dead and increased the rate of homicides up to an astounding 250%. There are two different perspectives over this protest; one criticizes the movement for tormenting innocent people, and the other claims that it is a necessary measure for a better future. Nevertheless, more people joined the protest to stop police brutality and racial inequality. The Black Lives Matter movement changed the way Americans fight for freedom. It had always been a human rights movement, not a civil rights movement. This issue will be prevalent wherever racial discrimination shows up in our society.

The Third Quarter

On August 4th, 2020, a small explosion in a fireworks factory led to a massive explosion of a warehouse holding 3,030 tons of ammonium nitrate on Beirut’s Port. The blast killed more than 160 people and injured about 6,000. According to the Center for Disaster Philanthropy, “In the study released in early October, they estimate the explosion’s yield as the equivalent of 500 tons of TNT, although it could have been as much as 1.1 kilotons. The explosion is equivalent to 1/20th of the size of the atomic bomb used in Hiroshima in 1945.” The economic damages of the Beirut explosion totaled to around $20 billion. This type of industrial explosion occurs annually and will keep happening unless safety procedures are changed to be more vigilant and strict.

On September 18th, 2020, the second female justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, Ruth Bader Ginsburg died. She founded the Women’s Rights Project, worked to mitigate gender discrimination, and even launched the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). She worked her whole life to improve others’ lives and made tremendous achievements as a woman during a time of gender inequality. She earned respect and honors during her time as a Supreme Court justice. According to Ruth Bader, “The state controlling a woman would mean denying her full autonomy and full equality.” This quote illustrates her strong belief and motivation for gender equality.

The Fourth Quarter

The 2020 United States presidential election was held on Tuesday, November 3, 2020. President Donald Trump was the candidate for the Republican party, and Joseph Biden, former Vice President, was the candidate for the Democratic party. The 2020 election was different from what it was in past years. Due to COVID-19, Americans were expected to vote by mail. The election continued for days to count all the votes, and the result was unpredictable. To win the election, either party should have more than 270 electoral votes. The election between Donald Trump and Joseph Biden was still unresolved for a few weeks until Biden won 306 to 232. President Trump demanded to recount the votes in certain states, such as Georgia, but the results were indisputable as Joseph Biden clearly won.

The year 2020 started with COVID-19 and ended with it. The U.S. has about 20.2 million confirmed cases and 348 thousand deaths. According to the CDC, "A new variant strain of SARS-CoV-2 that contains a series of mutations has been described in the United Kingdom (UK) and has become highly prevalent in London and southeast England. Based on these mutations, this variant strain has been predicted to potentially be more rapidly transmissible than other circulating strains of SARS-CoV-2."

This variant is called “B.1.1.7.” In November, about 25 percent of confirmed cases in London were related to the B.1.1.7. By mid-December, more than 60 percent of recently confirmed cases were caused by the new strain. Scientists also found that the virus created new variants every two weeks. The World Health Organization reported that as of January 4, 2021, there were over 80 million cases of COVID-19, and of those cases, around two million people had died.

The year 2020 has been exhausting, chaotic, and almost surreal. Many people lost their family members, and the whole world faced hardships in every aspect of life. Doctors worked for days on end, and there has been a continuous increase in the number of confirmed cases. Moreover, the gap between the rich and the poor has only been furthered during this time of crisis. Still, there are millions of people who think COVID-19 is a joke, which is not acceptable. We’ve lost many famous people this year, such as Kobe Bryant, Chadwick Boseman, and even an innocent man: George Floyd. This year, the world learned many lessons about handling the virus, police brutality, and racial discrimination. To prevent 2021 from becoming a repeat of 2020, everyone should stay home, postpone gatherings, wash hands, wear masks, and stop racial discrimination and police brutality so the world can return to a normal state, whatever the new 'normal' is.

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