35 of the most powerful images of 2020 capture a year we'll never forget

·13 min read
Dana Clark and her 18-month-old son Mason wait in line at City Hall as early voting begins for the upcoming presidential election in New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S., October 16, 2020. Clark said she donned this protective cover because she didn't know how many people would be wearing masks in line, and her child doesn't have a mask. She said she works as a teacher, and wanted to take precautions for her students' sakes.
Reuters released its 2020 Pictures of the Year, and we selected 25 images that remind us what it was like to live through 2020. REUTERS/Kathleen Flynn

This year began in crisis with the Australia bushfires that burned more than 17.9 million acres of land.

Nancy Allen and Brian Allen stand outside the house as high winds push smoke and ash from the Currowan Fire towards Nowra, New South Wales, Australia January 4, 2020. REUTERS/Tracey Nearmy
Nancy and Brian Allen stood outside their home during the Currowan Fire in South Whales. REUTERS/Tracey Nearmy

By January 2, New South Whales declared a state of emergency - and Victoria a state of disaster - over bushfires that began in 2019 after the driest spring on record, Insider previously reported. About 18 million acres burned, Insider reported in February

Later in the year, wildfires ravaged the west coast of the US. More acres of California burned in 2020 than any year prior.

A home is seen fully engulfed in flames during the Glass Fire in St. Helena, California, U.S. September 27, 2020. REUTERS/Stephen Lam
A home was destroyed in the Glass Fire in St. Helena, California. REUTERS/Stephen Lam

The fires, which began in late July, burned 4 million acres of California by early October.

"The 4 million mark is unfathomable. It boggles the mind, and it takes your breath away," Scott McLean, a spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection known as Cal Fire, told The Associated Press.

Wildfires in Oregon broke records, too.

A search and rescue team, surrounded by red fire retardant, look for victims under burned residences and vehicles in the aftermath of the Almeda fire in Talent, Oregon, U.S., September 13, 2020. Picture taken with a drone.
Surrounded by red fire retardant, a search and rescue team looked for victims in Talent, Oregon, after the Alameda fire. REUTERS/Adrees Latif

Gov. Kate Brown said five towns in Oregon were destroyed in the fires at a news conference on September 9, Insider previously reported.

"This could be the greatest loss of human lives and property due to wildfire in our state's history," Brown said.

Fires weren't the only natural disasters in 2020. In the Philippines, a volcano erupted on January 13, and more than a half-mile of ash shot up into the sky.

A dog, left in a garage covered with ashes, barks nearby the erupting Taal Volcano in Talisay, Batangas, Philippines, January 13, 2020.
A dog was left in a garage near the volcano in Talisay, Batangas. REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez

The volcano began emitting steam on January 12 and erupted the following day, Insider previously reported.

In Japan, a summer flood killed at least 50 people and destroyed parts of Japan's southern region of Kyushu.

An arial view shows damage caused by floods following torrential rain in Kumamura, Kumamoto Prefecture, Japan, July 8, 2020. Picture taken with a drone. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
Floods following torrential rain damaged parts of Kumamura, Japan. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

Days of continuous rain triggered the flood, The Associated Press reported on July 6.

In South Sudan, the River Nile broke an embankment, causing flooding.

An aerial view shows flooded homes within a village after the River Nile broke the dykes in Jonglei State, South Sudan, October 5, 2020.
An aerial view shows flooded homes within a village in Jonglei State, South Sudan. REUTERS/Andreea Campeanu

South Sudan families were displaced by the flooding, Reuters reported in October.

Also in 2020, deforestation in the Amazon continued to ravage the area.

A fallen tree lies in an area of the Amazon jungle that was cleared by loggers and farmers near Porto Velho, Rondonia State, Brazil, August 14, 2020.
A portion of the Amazon jungle near Porto Velho was cleared in August. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino

The Amazon's record-breaking 2019 fire season shed light on deforestation, where farmers clear sections of the forest for agriculture. Alberto Setzer, a senior scientist at Brazil's National Institute for Space Research (INPE), told CNN that humans start 99% of fires in the Amazon.

In late 2020, deforestation in the Amazon increased. 

While there was 6% less deforestation in the Amazon in the first 9 months of 2020 than the same time frame in 2019, in October 2020, deforestation rose 50% from the previous year, per Reuters.

Temperatures in Antarctica continued to increase this year, and these penguins' main source of food swam south, leaving them hungry.

A group of chinstrap penguins walk on top of an iceberg floating near Lemaire Channel, Antarctica, February 6, 2020.
Penguins floated on an iceberg near the Lemaire Channel in Antarctica. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino

Chinstrap penguins eat krill, which moved south to cooler waters as the Arctic hit record-breaking temperatures in February 2020, Insider previously reported

 

Some records were broken in 2020. Billie Eilish, 18, became the youngest person ever to win the Grammy's Album of the Year.

Billie Eilish arrives at the 62nd Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, California, U.S., January 26, 2020.
Billie Eilish attended the 62nd Grammy Awards in Los Angeles in January. REUTERS/Mike Blake

Billie Eilish won four more Grammy's in 2020, too, including song of the year for the hit "Bad Guy", best new artist, best pop vocal album, and record of the year, Insider reported in January

This was a big year for the #MeToo movement as film producer Harvey Weinstein was found guilty of third-degree rape and first-degree criminal sexual act in February.

Film producer Harvey Weinstein arrives at New York Criminal Court for his sexual assault trial in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., January 9, 2020.
Harvey Weinstein's sexual assault trial was in New York City in January. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Weinstein's early-2020 trial was a huge moment for #MeToo. He's the most notable figure that has been taken down by the movement, Vox reported in February.

At the same time, Weinstein was acquitted on the two most-serious charges that could have landed him a lifetime in prison, Insider previously reported

The most defining event of 2020 has been the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which began in Wuhan, China, and spread across the world.

Medical workers in protective suits attend to novel coronavirus (COVID) patients at the intensive care unit (ICU) of a designated hospital in Wuhan, Hubei province, China, February 6, 2020.
Medical workers cared for coronavirus patients in Wuhan, China in February. China Daily via REUTERS

Wuhan, China, went into quarantine on January 24 in light of the coronavirus, Insider previously reported.

The virus doesn't show symptoms in everyone, but it can be deadly. Insider reported that more than a million had died of illness related to the coronavirus in September.

 

Germany used helicopters and other equipment designed for war to transport critical coronavirus patients.

Doctor Katharina Franz and paramedic Andreas Hankel, of the rescue helicopter "Christoph Giessen", reanimate a patient during preparations for his transport in the special isolation chamber "IsoArk", for highly infectious coronavirus disease (COVID-19) patients, from a clinic, as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, in Hanau, Germany, April 16, 2020.
Doctor Katharina Franz and paramedic Andreas Hankel, of the rescue helicopter "Christoph Giessen" reanimated a patient in April. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

Transporting critical patients by helicopter as opposed to driving could be the difference between life and death, Reuters reported in the spring.

 

While the coronavirus is most dangerous for elderly people and those with underlying health conditions, some cases in children and teens have been just as severe.

Multiple members of medical staff in protective suits are needed to move an 18-year old patient suffering from coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in an intensive care unit at the San Raffaele hospital in Milan, Italy, March 27, 2020.
An 18-year-old infected with coronavirus is seen in an intensive care unit in Italy. REUTERS/Flavio Lo Scalzo

In early May, a study published by JAMA Pediatrics confirmed that "that severe illness in children is significant but far less frequent than in adults," Business Insider previously reported. Most of the children involved in the study had underlying health conditions.

The pandemic shed light on the importance of medical professionals and frontline workers across industries, from nurses to couriers.

Nurse Dilara Fahrioglu's goggles are covered with vapor after taking care of a COVID-19 patient during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, at an intensive care unit of the Medicana International Hospital in Istanbul, Turkey, April 14, 2020.
Nurse Dilara Fahrioglu took care of coronavirus patients in Istanbul, Turkey. REUTERS/Umit Bektas

In the summer, healthcare workers on the frontlines of the pandemic had to endure PPE shortages to fight the coronavirus, per Insider.

 

Many healthcare workers have died of the virus, while others have separated from their families to keep them safe.

A health worker reacts before the burial of a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) officer who died from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at a graveyard in New Delhi, India, April 29, 2020.
A health worker stood before the burial of a Central Reserve Police Force officer who died of illness related to the coronavirus. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

Kaiser Health News and the Guardian reported that more nurses have died of coronavirus-related illness than any other healthcare professional, per Business Insider.

Millions of healthcare workers separated from their families to keep them safe after being exposed to the virus, Insider reported in the spring.

Around the world, temporary hospitals popped up to treat the influx of coronavirus patients.

A general view of treatment blocks at a temporary hospital in the Krylatskoye Ice Palace, where patients suffering from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) are treated, in Moscow, Russia November 13, 2020. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov/
A temporary hospital in the Krylatskoye Ice Palace treats coronavirus patients in Moscow, Russia. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

In the US, the Army Corps of Engineers repurposed hotels, dormitories, convention centers, and other open spaces to take care of coronavirus patients, Reuters reported via Insider in the spring.

The threat of the virus impacted all areas of hospitals. Friends and family were restricted from visiting newborns, for example.

Neonatal Nurse Kirsty Hartley carries a newborn Theo Anderson, who was born prematurely, to his mother Kirsty Anderson, in a hospital in East Lancashire, Britain, May 15, 2020.  REUTERS/Hannah McKay/Pool/File photo
Nurse Kirsty Hartley carries a newborn Theo Anderson, who was born prematurely, to his mother Kirsty Anderson, in a hospital in East Lancashire, Britain. REUTERS/Hannah McKay/Pool/File photo

This was especially hard on families with newborns who were born prematurely because even parents were restricted from seeing their babies, Insider reported in December.

Cities and countries worldwide shut down businesses and schools, leading to empty metropolises like New York City.

An empty street is seen in Manhattan borough during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in New York City, U.S., March 15, 2020.
An empty street is seen in NYC on March 15. REUTERS/Jeenah Moon

As non-essential businesses shut their doors and people across the world were ordered to shelter-in-place in early-spring, cities like New York looked empty, Insider previously reported.

 

While it was quiet outside, people passed the time inside their homes.

covid italy
Schoolteacher Marzio Toniolo, 35, takes a picture of his two-year-old daughter Bianca painting his toenails while in lockdown in San Fiorano, Italy. REUTERS/Marzio Toniolo

During lockdowns, people turned to activities they could do from home, like board games, baking bread, and binge-watching TV, Insider previously reported.

Meanwhile, travel and tourism industries tanked around the world.

A drone image shows decommissioned cruise ships being dismantled at Aliaga ship-breaking yard in the Aegean port city of Izmir, western Turkey, October 2, 2020. REUTERS/Umit Bektas
Decommissioned cruise ships are dismantled at Aliaga ship-breaking yard in Turkey. REUTERS/Umit Bektas

The coronavirus spread on dozens of cruise ships in March, Business Insider previously reported.

Social distancing restrictions and travel plans to prevent outbreaks devastated the travel industry, leaving cruise ships docked and empty, Insider reported in June.

As a result, cruise ships were dismantled for scrap metal in Turkey, Insider reported in October.

New York City was known as "Ground Zero" of the pandemic in the US, with daily death tolls exceeding 1,000 in April.

An arial view shows bodies being buried on New York's Hart Island where the department of corrections is dealing with more burials overall, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in New York City, U.S., April 9, 2020.
Bodies were buried on New York's Hart Island in April 2020. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

New York City has been called "Ground Zero" of the pandemic in the US. Unclaimed bodies of those who died of coronavirus were buried on New York's Hart Island, a mass graveyard, Business Insider reported in April.

While people were ordered to stay home to prevent the spread, some people protested lockdowns. In some cases, healthcare workers showed up to counter their protests.

Health care workers stand in the street in counter-protest to hundreds of people who gathered at the State Capitol to demand the stay-at-home order be lifted in the midst of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Denver, Colorado, U.S. April 19, 2020.
Workers stood in the street in counter-protest to hundreds of people who gathered to demand that lockdown orders be lifted. REUTERS/Alyson McClaran

While people in Denver protested the state's lockdown orders in the spring, healthcare workers stood silently in their way, Insider previously reported.

 

Amid quarantine and stay-at-home orders, people adapted to new ways of working and communicating.

Triathlete Lloyd Bebbington trains in a pool in his garden at home in April 2020.
Triathlete Lloyd Bebbington trained in a pool in his garden at home in April 2020. REUTERS/Carl Recine

As spring turned to summer, athletes like Lloyd Bebbington found ways to train from home, Reuters reported.

People found new ways to celebrate significant events from home, too.

People carry a statue depicting Jesus Christ back inside after a rooftop Good Friday celebration
People carried a statue depicting Jesus Christ back inside after a rooftop Good Friday celebration. REUTERS/Alessandro Garofalo

Some Good Friday celebrations took place on rooftops while people nearby watched from their windows and balconies, Business Insider previously reported.

As parts of the world began to reopen in the summer, sports games resumed with eerily empty stadiums.

Arsenal's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scores a penalty to win the penalty shootout and the FA Community Shield in a match against Liverpool, as play resumes behind closed doors following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, at Wembley Stadium in London, Britain, August 29, 2020. Pool via REUTERS/Andrew Couldridge
Arsenal's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scores a penalty in a match against Liverpool in August 2020. Pool via REUTERS/Andrew Couldridge

Some sports teams creatively filled the stands with cardboard cutouts of fans, Insider previously reported.

At the Borussia Monchengladbach soccer stadium in Germany, fans could pay $20 to have their face pasted in the crowd. 

Another defining moment of the year was when police officers killed George Floyd, a Black man, and the world demanded justice.

A woman cries as the horse-drawn carriage carrying the casket containing the body of George Floyd, whose death in Minneapolis police custody has sparked nationwide protests against racial inequality, passes by in Pearland, Texas, U.S., June 9, 2020.
A woman cried as a horse-drawn carriage carried the casket containing the body of George Floyd. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

George Floyd's death in late-May involved four Minneapolis policemen, one of whom knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes. Floyd's last words were "I can't breathe," Insider previously reported

Minneapolis erupted in protests following Floyd's death, and the world followed suit.

Protesters react as they set fire to the entrance of a police station as demonstrations continue in the aftermath of the death in Minneapolis police custody of George Floyd, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S., May 28, 2020.
Protesters demonstrated at the entrance of a police station in Minneapolis, Minnesota. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

In the summer, protests spread across the US and the world in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, from Europe, to Asia, to South America, Insider previously reported.

 

Protests continued through the summer, marking the "US' biggest protests for racial justice and civil rights in a generation," Reuters reported.

Rain falls as C'Monie Scott raises her fist while people chant around her at a memorial site for George Floyd that has been created at the place where he was taken into police custody and later pronounced dead, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S., June 2, 2020.
Rain falls as C'Monie Scott raises her fist while people chant around her at a memorial site for George Floyd. REUTERS/Leah Millis

Some US police departments banned chokeholds and no-knock warrants in response to the protests, Reuters previously reported via Insider.

2020 was an election year full of heightened political tension.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) rips up the speech of U.S. President Donald Trump after his State of the Union address to a joint session of the U.S. Congress in the House Chamber of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S. February 4, 2020.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi ripped up the State of the Union address. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

One unforgettable moment was the time House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ripped President Donald Trump's State of the Union address back in February.

She ripped it after he was finished speaking, Business Insider previously reported. Before the speech, Trump appeared to refuse a handshake from Pelosi.

 

More US citizens voted in the 2020 presidential election than ever before, and some faced wait times of up to six hours

Voters wait in a long line to cast their ballots at Church of the Servant in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma U.S., November 3, 2020. REUTERS/Nick Oxford
Voters waited in a long line to cast their ballots at Church of the Servant in Oklahoma. REUTERS/Nick Oxford

People who voted on Super Tuesday waited as long as six hours to cast their ballots, Insider previously reported.

President-elect Joe Biden earned at least 80 million votes in 2020, per NPR.

 

This photo of a Black woman and her son trying to stay safe while voting went viral in October, and some are calling it "the photo of 2020."

Dana Clark and her 18-month-old son Mason wait in line at City Hall as early voting begins for the upcoming presidential election in New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S., October 16, 2020. Clark said she donned this protective cover because she didn't know how many people would be wearing masks in line, and her child doesn't have a mask. She said she works as a teacher, and wanted to take precautions for her students' sakes.
Dana Clark and her 18-month-old son Mason waited in line at City Hall during early voting in New Orleans. REUTERS/Kathleen Flynn

"This is everything, everything that is going on in America with Black people,'" Dana Clark, the woman pictured, told BuzzFeed News during voting season. "It shows the compassion of a mother wanting a better life for her child, standing in line to vote, because this is the only option she has left."

 

Joe Biden won the 2020 presidential election in November, making Sen. Kamala Harris the first female, Black, and Asian American vice president-elect in US history.

Democratic 2020 U.S. presidential nominee Joe Biden and his wife Jill, and Democratic 2020 U.S. vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris and her husband Doug, react to the confetti at their election rally, after the news media announced that Biden has won the 2020 U.S. presidential election over President Donald Trump, in Wilmington, Delaware, U.S., November 7, 2020.
President-elect Joe Biden, his wife Jill, vice president-elect Kamala Harris, and her husband, Doug, reacted to their win. REUTERS/Jim Bourg

"Bringing Black and South Asian representation to the table, her lived experiences as a woman of color and a daughter of immigrants will offer a point of view in the White House the likes of which this country has never seen," Christian Nunes, the president of the National Organization for Women, previously told Business Insider.

On the evening of November 5, major news organizations cut away from President Donal Trump's White House address to correct false information.

U.S. President Donald Trump departs after speaking about the 2020 U.S. presidential election results in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House in Washington, U.S., November 5, 2020.
President Donald Trump departed after speaking on November 5. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

President Donald Trump told the country that the election was stolen from him during the address in early November, prompting ABC, CBS, and NBC to cut away from the speech to let people know that the information was false, Business Insider previously reported.

Many Americans celebrated in the streets as major news outlets announced Biden's win on November 7.

A cab driver raises his fist as people celebrate media announcements that Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Joe Biden has won the 2020 U.S. presidential election on Union Square in the Manhattan borough of New York City, U.S. November 7, 2020. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
A cab driver raises his fist as people celebrate media announcements that Joe Biden won the 2020 presidential election in NYC. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

Insider and Decision Desk HQ projected the win on November 6. Some New Yorkers celebrated on rooftops and fire escapes while others danced in the streets, Insider previously reported.

In the final weeks of 2020, coronavirus vaccines were given in some countries first to healthcare professionals and frontline workers, followed by high-risk individuals.

Margaret Keenan, 90, is the first patient in Britain to receive the Pfizer/BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine at University Hospital, administered by nurse May Parsons, at the start of the largest ever immunisation programme in the British history, in Coventry, Britain December 8, 2020. Britain is the first country in the world to start vaccinating people with the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. Jacob King/Pool via REUTERS
Margaret Keenan, 90, is the first patient in Britain to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at University Hospital in Coventry, Britain. Jacob King/Pool via REUTERS

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is said to be 95% effective, Business Insider previously reported.

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