WLNS DIGITAL EXCLUSIVE: Full recap of the unforgettable year 2020

Digital Exclusives

LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — The year 2020 has been nothing if not memorable and sadly, it feels like this year will be remembered for what felt like a constant stream of bad news.

It started with devastating wildfires and somehow only got worse from there. A deadly virus emerged that kept everyone in their homes for months on end. But even that couldn’t silence the voice of social justice.

Here is our 6 News year in review:


The year began with wildfires in Australia and photos emerging on the internet of wildlife escaping those fires into nearby neighborhoods. In total, at least 33 people died and 27.2 million acres were burned.

In this image from a video taken on Friday, Dec. 27, 2019, and provided by @bikebug2019, a koala drinks water, given by a cyclist in Adelaide, Australia. A South Australian cyclist has been approached by a thirsty koala searching for water as a heatwave continues to grip the state. (@bikebug2019 via AP)

In the United States, President Trump became the third president ever impeached by the United States House of Representatives.

Across the pond, it was royal drama, as Meghan Markle and Prince Harry announced they were leaving the royal family.

Lastly, the most shocking event in January, the death of Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant in a helicopter crash.

FILE – In this July 26, 2018, file photo, former Los Angeles Laker Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna watch during the U.S. national championships swimming meet in Irvine, Calif. Autopsy reports released Friday, May 15, 2020, show that the pilot who flew Bryant show he did not have drugs or alcohol in his system when the helicopter crashed in Southern California in January, killing all nine aboard. The causes of death for Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, pilot Ara Zobayan and the others have been ruled blunt force trauma. Federal authorities are still investigating the crash. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson, File)

The only good thing to come out of the tragic news was the trend of dad’s sharing stories about their daughters with the hashtag “girl dad” in honor of Bryant.


In February, President Trump was acquitted of both impeachment charges by the United States Senate.

The presidential primaries started to heat up in Iowa, with Bernie Sanders looking like the favorite.

Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders
FILE – In this March 15, 2020 file photo, now Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden, left, and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., right, greet one another before they participate in a Democratic presidential primary debate at CNN Studios in Washington. Former staffers from Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign want to harness strong support for the Vermont senator among Hispanics to bolster Joe Biden in two battleground states that could prove critical in November’s election. Nuestro PAC is launching a 30-second spot that will begin airing Thursday for two weeks in heavily Hispanic Nevada and Iowa. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

And little did we know, just the few cases of COVID-19 reported in the U.S. would increase dramatically and completely change life as we knew it.


On March 10, the calendar read as the day of the Michigan presidential primary, but it will now be remembered as the day of the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in the mitten state.

All at once, COVID-19 went from something that seemed abstract to everyone’s daily reality.

One day after the first case in Michigan was announced, NBA star Rudy Gobert tested positive for the virus and soon after the entire sports world was put on pause, with the cancellation of every major sport, including the NCAA March Madness basketball tournament.

FILE – In this Saturday, March 7, 2020, file photo, Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert (27) talks with guard Donovan Mitchell, left, during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Detroit Pistons, in Detroit. Both players have tested positive for the coronavirus. Gobert’s test result forced the NBA to suspend the season. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson, File)

Everyone was told to stay home and in Michigan, that included virtual learning.

With everyone staying home and not much on TV, “Tiger King” quickly became the talk of many households. The battle of Joseph Maldonado-Passage or “Joe Exotic” and Carole Baskin over big cats was compelling to say the least, and filled a cultural void left from COVID-19.

Joe Schreibvoge Maldonado
FILE – In this Aug. 28, 2013, file photo, the late Joseph Maldonado-Passage, also known as Joe Exotic, answers a question during an interview at the zoo he runs in Wynnewood, Okla. The Oklahoma zoo, featured in Netflix’s “Tiger King” documentary, has closed after federal authorities investigated it for alleged maltreatment of animals and suspended its license. The Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park closed to the public after the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Monday, Aug. 17, 2020, suspended the exhibitor license for current-owner Jeff Lowe for 21 days.(AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)


April was all about everyone getting used to the new normal, and part of that new normal was masks. That led to a controversy at a Michigan Senate vote at the capitol with State Senator Dale Zorn wearing what appeared to be a confederate flag mask. He denied that it was a confederate flag but also said he told his wife “it will raise some eyebrows.”

In addition, Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced an extension of the stay at home order.


As the calendar turned to the month of May, frustration started to really build about the COVID-19 restrictions.

Notably, an Owosso barber gave out haircuts despite the state’s restrictions.

Barber Karl Manke, of Owosso, gives a free haircut on the steps of the State Capitol during a rally in Lansing, Mich., Wednesday, May 20, 2020. Barbers and hair stylists are protesting the state’s stay-at-home orders, a defiant demonstration that reflects how salons have become a symbol for small businesses that are eager to reopen two months after the COVID-19 pandemic began. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

The month of May is also graduation month for many college students, and the normal walks had to be thrown out in favor of virtual ceremonies.

Lastly in May, we learned a name that will stay with us for many years to come.

George Floyd was killed when a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds.

MANCHESTER, UNITED KINGDOM – JUNE 03: Graffiti artist Akse spray paints a mural of George Floyd in Manchester’s northern quarter on June 03, 2020 in Manchester, United Kingdom. The death of an African-American man, George Floyd, while in the custody of Minneapolis police has sparked protests across the United States, as well as demonstrations of solidarity in many countries around the world. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)


The outrage over Floyd’s death carried on for many months and led to massive Black Lives Matter protest all across the country, including here in Lansing, Michigan.

BLM holds prayer protest in Lansing_170344

 It also led to the “defund the police” movement and many asking for nationwide police reform.

In June, Whitmer also lifted the COVID-19 “stay at home order” as the numbers started to trend in the right direction after months of staying at home.


As the year progressed, Whitmer became more and more of a national figure. She was praised by the left for her handling of the Coronavirus that many believe led to the sharp decrease in the state’s cases.

And she was heavily criticized by the right for those same restrictions, saying they were an undue burden on the state’s businesses.

In Delta Township, an argument over masks turned deadly when a man was stabbed. The suspect was later killed by police after a confrontation.

On July 17, civil rights legend and long time united states representative John Lewis passed away at the age of 80.


COVID-19 numbers remained low in Michigan in the month of August, but many were still on high alert.

The Lansing School District canceled all fall sports and many schools announced their return to school plans with virtual learning at least apart of the experience.

The much anticipated 2020 election was really starting to heat up in August, with Joe Biden announcing Kamala Harris as his running mate.

August also brought another shocking death. Chadwick Boseman, known for playing the Black Panther, Jackie Robinson and many more roles, passed away after a battle with cancer that the public didn’t even know about.

Chadwick Boseman
FILE – In this Jan. 29, 2018 file photo, Chadwick Boseman, a cast member in “Black Panther,” poses at the premiere of the film in Los Angeles. Actor Chadwick Boseman, who played Black icons Jackie Robinson and James Brown before finding fame as the regal Black Panther in the Marvel cinematic universe, has died of cancer. His representative says Boseman died Friday, Aug. 28, 2020 in Los Angeles after a four-year battle with colon cancer. He was 43. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, File)


September was the return of many sports. The Big Ten announced they were going to have an eight-game football season and Whitmer allowed high school sports to come back as long as athletes wore masks while competing after both announced they wouldn’t have football seasons.

September also brought another sad death. Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away on Sept. 18 after 27 years of serving on United States Supreme Court. Her position was filled just over a month later by Amy Coney Barrett.

In this July 24, 2013, file photo, Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg poses for a photo in her chambers at the Supreme Court in Washington, before an interview with The Associated Press. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)


October was another crazy month. It all started when President Trump tested positive for COVID-19 and was hospitalized at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Washington D.C.

Locally, a 3-year-old was shot outside of a Zap Zone in Lansing.

Then, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that Whitmer had exceeded her power as governor in her response to the virus, striking down many of her executive orders.

Lastly, all eyes were on the state of Michigan where both presidential candidates focused a lot of their resources, proving the road to the White House runs through Michigan.


November was all about the presidential election. There was record voter turnout throughout the nation and President Trump took an early lead, but as the counting continued throughout the week, it became clear that Joe Biden was receiving many of the absentee ballots that were counted later.

That led to many people not trusting the results, including President Trump himself. Trump and many people filing on behalf of President Trump launched a brigade of lawsuits in hopes of changing the results. Many were quickly shot down by federal judges, but the lawsuits continued throughout the month.

Joe Biden declared victory on Nov. 7 in front of a small group of honking cars in Wilmington, Delaware and began his transition into office.

US President-elect Joe Biden (C-R) and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris (C-L) react as confetti falls, with Jill Biden (R) and Douglas Emhoff, after delivering remarks in Wilmington, Delaware, on November 7, 2020, after being declared the winners of the presidential election. (Photo by Jim WATSON / AFP) (Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)

All of this was happening as the COVID-19 numbers were surging in Michigan and across the nation. That lead to new restrictions in Michigan such as the closing of indoor seating at restaurants.

Tragically,  long time jeopardy host Alex Trebek passed away on Nov. 8 after a long battle with pancreatic cancer.


Last but not least, December, when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave approval to not one, but two vaccines.

One of those came from Pfizer, which was made in Michigan.

Workers paused for a moment and started to clap as the first boxes of vaccine were being moved to a loading dock (NBC News)

Meanwhile, the federal government went to battle over a budget, stimulus checks and more COVID-19 relief.

On Christmas day, 63-year-old Anthony Warner blew up a RV while he was inside, injuring eight people and damaging dozens of buildings in Nashville.

FILE – In this Dec. 29, 2020 file photo, debris remains on the sidewalk in front of buildings damaged in a Christmas Day explosion in Nashville, Tenn. The Christmas Day bombing in downtown Nashville led to communications outages over hundreds of miles in the southern U.S., raising concerns about the vulnerability of U.S. networks. Widespread service outages followed the explosion, which damaged a major AT&T network hub, extended hundreds of miles to at least four neighboring states, disrupting 911 call centers, hospitals and flights out of the Nashville airport. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, File)

As 2020 comes to a close, we are all hoping things will get back to normal and that there’s a bright future ahead in 2021.

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