It’s been a volatile year for America. The country has been the hardest hit by the global coronavirus pandemic, lost one of its greatest sporting stars, and more recently descended into nationwide strife as protests and rioting erupts over the police killing of George Floyd.
Here are ten bad things to happen in the US this year, in chronological order.
1. January: Over 100 troops are diagnosed with brain injuries
Amid rising tensions in the Middle East, Iran fired missiles at the Ain al-Asad base in Iraq in January, in retaliation for the US killing of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps General Qassem Soleimani. While no US troops were killed or sustained bodily injuries, by February 10, 109 US troops stationed at the base had been diagnosed with traumatic brain injury as a result of the attack.
2. January: Death of Kobe Bryant, his daughter and seven others
The basketball legend Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash near Los Angeles on January 26. His 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven others were also onboard. Also on the helicopter were a teammate from Gianna’s basketball team and their parent. Fans across the world mourned the loss of Bryant, who was one of the sport’s all-time greats.
3. February-June: Wildfires in California
In 2020, drier weather in California has caused the state to have 60 percent more wildfires than last year, the state’s governor Gavin Newsom said in mid-May. Coronavirus meant that the state had to update plans for handling evacuations and tactics for fighting wildfires.
4. March-April: Tornadoes in the South
On March 3, tornadoes tore through Nashville, Tennessee and surrounding counties, leaving at least 25 dead and others missing. At least 30 people were injured and 48 buildings were destroyed in Nashville, with many more were damaged, according to the local fire department chief via Reuters.
In mid-April, as Americans prepared to celebrate Easter Sunday, deadly storms ripped through the southern US days before, leaving at least 26 dead. At least 60 tornados swept the US from Texas to the east coast. Nearly 580,000 million homes and businesses in five states were left temporarily without power.
5. May: Murder hornets
The third so-called “murder” hornet was spotted in Washington state at the end of May. The Asian giant hornet can grow up to 2 ½ inches (6.4 cm) and could potentially pose a threat to the bee population. The new sighting is a sign that the hornet survived the cold Northwest winter, state agriculture officials said, Reuters reported. The first hornet was noticed in 2019, but the two new sightings indicate that there could be more of the predatory species flying about.
6. January onwards: Most mass shootings in May since 2013
There were 59 mass shootings in the US in May, according to data by Gun Violence Archive (GVA), a nonprofit that tracks gun violence incidents. The organization began collecting data in 2013, and May 2020 saw the most gun violence in seven years. GVA, including other organizations that track gun violence, define a mass shooting as an incidence in which four or more, excluding the shooter, are injured or killed in a single event at the same general time and location.
7. January onward: Coronavirus
The coronavirus pandemic has touched nearly every corner of the earth since it first started spreading in early January. But America has experienced the deadliest outbreak, with nearly 1.9 million cases and 107,066 deaths as of Thursday.
The first case was recorded in late January in Washington state, a man who had returned from travel in China. By April 11, all 50 states had declared states of emergency or similar warnings.
By mid-May, some Americans had tired of coronavirus lockdowns and took to protesting the social distancing measures imposed and forced business closures, prompting fears of a second wave of coronavirus. In Texas, militias guarded bars and tattoo parlors so they could reopen, the New York Times reported.
8. May: Worst economic recession since 2008 … brought on by coronavirus
Coronavirus temporarily shuttered businesses, caused massive disruptions to the transport industry, and led to widespread unemployment in the US. Unemployment hit 14.7 by early May, and around 28.5 million have lost their jobs – more than three times the number of jobs lost during the 2008 financial crisis, CNN reported. The number of individuals who have filed for unemployment has reached 21.5 million. Some experts predict the unemployment rate will reach close to 20 percent soon. At the end of April, the Department of commerce found that gross domestic product contracted at an annual rate of 4.8 percent in the first quarter.
With oil prices at historic lows, also due to the coronavirus pandemic, prices sank below zero for US West Texas Intermediate in late April.
9. May-June: George Floyd’s death, racism and police violence
George Floyd, an African American man, was killed by a police officer kneeling on his neck for nearly nine minutes on May 25 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Floyd’s death triggered a wave of nationwide protests, following a rise in racial tensions over the past years and a wave of deaths of black Americans at the hands of police. Most protests have been peaceful, but violent clashes have broken out between security forces and protesters, and there have been incidents of looting.
While African Americans make up roughly 13 percent of the US population, they accounted for over 23 percent of fatal shootings by police in 2019, according to census data.
The four officers involved in the incident have been arrested. Derek Chauvin, the officer who put his knee into Floyd’s neck has been charged with second-degree murder, after the charges were upped from third-degree murder and manslaughter.
10. May-June: Declining press freedom
As protests rage, the role of press freedom has come into the spotlight in the US. While freedom of the press and free speech are rights enshrined in the first amendment of the constitution, journalists covering the protests have been targeted and arrested, including at least one incident caught on camera when a member of CNN’s crew was arrested in Minneapolis.
Bellingcat journalist Nick Waters has identified 138 incidents of members of the press being targeted by police.
Incident 138: journalist hit in leg with less lethal rounds in San Antonio.https://t.co/8wZOyevVUo— Nick Waters (@N_Waters89) June 3, 2020
“Press freedom is one of the most fundamental pillars of American democracy, and constitutional protections in the United States are stronger than in any other country in the world,” watchdog Freedom House wrote in a 2019 report.
“In perhaps the most concerning development of recent years, press freedom has come under unusual pressure in the United States, the world’s leading democratic power. Although key news organizations remain strong and continue to produce vigorous reporting on those in office, President Donald Trump’s continual vilification of the press has seriously exacerbated an ongoing erosion of public confidence in the mainstream media. Among other steps, the president has repeatedly threatened to strengthen libel laws, revoke the licenses of certain broadcasters, and damage media owners’ other business interests,” the report said.