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Election, stimulus checks... murder hornet? Most Googled stories in 2020

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – There’s no denying that the coronavirus pandemic has dominated the news in 2020. Really, it’s something we’ve all been talking about since late 2019 -- you know, back when some people were tweeting about how it comes from a beer most loved with a lime alongside a beach on a deserted island.

Don’t believe me? See for yourself. “Corona beer virus” began trending as a search term on Google in January. Trending, of course, means how often certain things are searched on the website.

Good news is Corona’s sales were reportedly unaffected by the name association.

But there are a lot of other topics that dominated the news in 2020 apart from the COVID-19 pandemic. Let’s take a look based on Google’s analytics and see what topics trended the highest -- specifically, the top 10.

Also - don’t scroll all the way down just to see what number one is. We’ll have words.

FILE - This satellite image provided by NASA on Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020 shows wildfires in Victoria and New South Wales, Australia. Climate change raised the chances of Australia’s extreme fire season by at least 30%, according to a study released Wednesday, March 4, 2020, by climate scientists at the World Weather Attribution group. (NASA via AP) (The Associated Press)

#10: Australia Fires

According to an October article in Time Magazine, Australia’s last fire season was one of the worst on record with more than 30 people dying, including at least nine firefighters.

Citing a study published by the Medical Journal of Australia, Time reported more than 400 people have been killed by smoke pollution from the fires and that more than 3,000 homes were destroyed.

The fires occur annually, but last season’s fires were exceptionally bad, burning an area twice the size of Florida.

In photo provided by the Washington State Dept. of Agriculture, an Asian Giant Hornet wearing a tracking device is shown Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020 near Blaine, Wash. Scientists have discovered the first nest of so-called murder hornets in the United States and plan to wipe it out Saturday to protect native honeybees, officials in Washington state said Friday, Oct. 23, 2020. (Karla Salp/Washington Dept. of Agriculture via AP)

#9: Murder hornet

I’m surprised this one made the list as I don’t feel like it necessarily got the attention social media would have given it in a year other than 2020.

The stings from a so-called murder hornet, however, are rarely deadly. But you definitely would run if you saw one buzzing toward you. Course, I run from a lot of things. Mainly cockroaches.

Asian giant hornets, an invasive pest not native to the U.S., are the world’s largest hornet at 2 inches long, and a predator of other insects, including the honey bees that pollinate many of the crops in Washington’s multi-billion-dollar agriculture industry.

The hornets kill at most a few dozen people a year in Asian countries, and experts say it’s probably far less. By comparison, hornets, wasps and bees typically found in the United States kill an average of 62 people a year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said.

So yeah, I’m not sure it deserves the nickname. Roaches are worse.

In this photo provided by the New York Stock Exchange, trader Edward McCarthy, left, works on the trading floor, Monday, Dec. 14, 2020. Stocks are rising on Wall Street Monday, as the country's first vaccinations against COVID-19 have the end of the pandemic slowly materializing into hazy sight. (Nicole Pereira/New York Stock Exchange via AP) (Copyrighted)

#8: Stock market

Buy or sell? What to do?

I’ve been asking myself that question for months. And frankly, when I did buy this year, I saw many days in the red, followed by days in the green. Rinse, repeat.

The Associated Press says in Wall Street years, 2020 has felt like a decade for the markets. Stan Choe writes: The stock market tumbled through years’ worth of losses in just over a month this spring, only to turn around and pack an entire bull market’s worth of gains into less than nine months. Even within the span of a few hours, the market in 2020 would sometimes careen to a loss that would have been remarkable for a full year.

The AP business writer says the market craziness in 2020 was likely a response to COVID-19, and market watchers expect movements closer to the norm in 2021.

Despite the volatility, you were better off holding on to your stock portfolio. According to Choe, analysts say the up-and-down market is a lesson that holding steady is often the best response for investors to crashing prices rather than trying to time the market.

(Jim Weber/Daily Memphian via AP) (The Daily Memphian)

#7: Super Tuesday

On March 3, Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, and Virginia all held their presidential primaries.

The biggest takeaway from the night: The comeback of now President-elect Joe Biden.

Biden’s night started with a 30-point victory in Virginia. According to the AP, Bloomberg spent more than $12 million in television ads in Virginia and millions more on field organization. Biden spent about $200,000, chump change by comparison.

Biden built on that throughout the night, in North Carolina, Minnesota, Massachusetts and across the South.

The next morning, Mike Bloomberg quit the race and endorsed Biden, making the contest almost certainly between the former VP and Sen. Bernie Sanders, who took the state of California -- the night’s largest trophy.

In the end, Biden won the most Super Tuesday delegates -- 10 states in all. Sanders only won four.

Notably, Sen. Elizabeth Warren did not win any states on Super Tuesday and finished an embarrassing third in her home state, Massachusetts.

FILE - In this Thursday, Aug. 27, 2020 file photo, buildings and homes are flooded in the aftermath of Hurricane Laura in Cameron, La. Laura, which jumped 65 mph (105 kph) in the day before landfall, tied the record for the biggest rapid intensification in the Gulf of Mexico, said former hurricane hunter meteorologist Jeff Masters. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

#6: Hurricane Laura

It was such a historically busy hurricane season that forecasters had to turn to the Greek alphabet after running out of assigned names.

In the U.S., Louisiana was hit by three hurricanes and two tropical storms. The worst to hit the state was Hurricane Laura, which hit in August, devastating large portions of southwest Louisiana.

Laura roared ashore as a Category 4 hurricane just south of Lake Charles near Cameron, packing 150-mph winds and a storm surge as high as 15 feet in some areas.

State officials have called it the most powerful storm ever to hit Louisiana, where it was blamed for 33 deaths.

In this photo released by the official website of the office of the Iranian supreme leader, worshippers chant slogans during Friday prayers ceremony, as a banner show Iranian Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani, left, and Iraqi Shiite senior militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, who were killed in Iraq in a U.S. drone attack on Jan. 3, and a banner which reads in Persian: "Death To America, "at Imam Khomeini Grand Mosque in Tehran, Iran, Friday, Jan. 17, 2020. Iran's supreme leader said in his sermons President Donald Trump is a "clown" who only pretends to support the Iranian people but will "push a poisonous dagger" into their backs, as he struck a defiant tone in his first Friday sermon in Tehran in eight years. (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP)

#5: Iran

The year ended as it began with tensions between Iran and the U.S. inflamed by the killing of a top official.

On Jan. 3, a U.S. drone strike killed Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani. Iran responded with a missile attack that injured dozens of U.S. troops in Iraq.

In December, a mysterious attack near Tehran killed a nuclear scientist whom the U.S. and others had identified as organizing Iran’s effort to seek nuclear weapons two decades ago. Iran blamed that attack on Israel.

Envelopes from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity Reemployment Assistance Program are shown, Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020, in Surfside, Fla. The number of a Americans applying for unemployment benefits rose last week to 778,000, evidence that the U.S. economy and job market remain under strain as coronavirus cases surge and colder weather heighten the risks. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee) (Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

#4: Unemployment

Here in Florida, the unemployment rate held steady in November -- businesses just didn’t boost seasonal hiring as they typically would due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jim Turner, with the News Service of Florida, reported that the Department of Economic Opportunity posted a 6.4% jobless rate for November, equal to a revised jobless mark for October. The rate indicates 651,000 Floridians qualified as unemployed in mid-November, 7,000 fewer than a month earlier. The unemployment rate in November 2019 was 2.8%.

According to Turner, the state has regained about 60% of the 1.18 million jobs lost between February and April -- when the pandemic hit. As the number of layoffs grew, you’ll likely remember that the state’s unemployment system was overwhelmed with people going online to make an unemployment claim.

LINK: Apply for unemployment or re-employment assistance in Florida

“The good news is we are seeing people come back into the labor market. Our labor force is growing,” Adrienne Johnston, with the Bureau of Labor Market Statistics, told the News Service of Florida. “Businesses are creating jobs, so we are seeing things come back.”

The national unemployment rate for November was said to have inched down to 6.7% from 6.9%.

Florida, however, saw its workforce grow by 49,000 from 10.097 million in October to 10.146 million in November. In 2019, the state’s workforce was 10.4 million with 297,000 out of work.

FILE - In this April 23, 2020, file photo, President Donald Trump's name is seen on a stimulus check issued by the IRS to help combat the adverse economic effects of the COVID-19 outbreak, in San Antonio. Hundreds of thousands of dollars in coronavirus relief payments have been sent to people behind bars across the United States, and now the IRS is asking state officials to help claw back the cash that the federal tax agency says was mistakenly sent. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

#3: Stimulus checks

Struggling Americans -- many who lost their jobs or were furloughed -- have needed help to make ends meet in 2020.

At the local level, the city of Jacksonville has offered relief for small businesses and families through the CARES Act. A stimulus in December offered funding for 875 businesses that hadn’t already received assistance from the city. The city received 1,000 applications in just 15 minutes from businesses applying for up to $2,000 in funding.

For people facing eviction in Duval County, the city of Jacksonville offered relief for that as well.

In late April, Americans began receiving their share of the $2.2 trillion congressional coronavirus relief plan. As of writing, a $900 billion COVID relief bill is at a standstill. The version approved by Congress would establish a temporary $300 per week supplemental jobless benefit and a $600 direct stimulus payment to most Americans, along with a new round of subsidies for hard-hit businesses, restaurants, and theaters, and money for schools, health care providers and renters facing eviction.

The bill, which is linked to a $1.4 trillion government funds bill, was met with opposition from President Trump. He’s pushing to increase direct payments for most Americans from $600 to $2,000 for individuals and $4,000 for couples.

According to the AP on Thursday, the president’s demand was swiftly rejected by House Republicans. Democrats will recall House lawmakers to Washington for a vote Monday on Trump’s proposal, with a roll call that would put all members on record as supporting or rejecting the $2,000 checks.

They are also considering a Monday vote on a stop-gap measure to at least avert a federal shutdown. It would keep the government running until Biden is inaugurated Jan. 20. Lawmakers will also be asked to override Trump’s veto of a must-pass Defense bill.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks during a news conference with the coronavirus task force at the White House in Washington, Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

#2: Coronavirus

The world looks a bit different right now than it did last December.

The pandemic has largely changed how we live our lives, including here at Channel 4. Many of us have been working from home, and if we are at the studio, we’re spread out and wear masks.

Needless to say, the virus is something we take very seriously here, so that’s why we want you to do the same. It’s why Tom and Mary talk about it, a lot. Chances are, if COVID-19 hasn’t touched someone in your immediate family, there’s at least one or two people in your life you know that have gotten it.

Hopefully, that person makes a full recovery. And hopefully, you stay healthy.

Needless to say, I wasn’t so fortunate.

For me, it was a strange, painful burning in the top of my nose. The weakness came later, followed by no sense of smell and a fever. I had no cough at all.

Still, I made the right call. I got tested days before Thanksgiving, just to be safe. I have seasonal allergies, so yes, I wrote it off at first because every year my nose acts up when the temperature changes.

I’m glad I got the test. I skipped my favorite holiday, but everyone else around me stayed healthy. And I’m good now.

The question going forward -- has social distancing changed the way we’ll live our lives? Dunno. But with two vaccines now being distributed, we can all hope the end is on the horizon.

FILE - In this Nov. 7, 2020, file photo Vice President-elect Kamala Harris holds hands with President-elect Joe Biden and her husband Doug Emhoff as they celebrate in Wilmington, Del. Black policy leaders will play a pivotal role in President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team, marking one of the most diverse presidential agency review teams in history. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

#1: Election results

It’s the story that likely put a damper on a few Thanksgiving dinners. Or maybe you were smart and it just didn’t come up.

Having said that, chances are good if the television was on, a political ad triggered the hairs to stand on the back of your neck.

Yes, the results of the 2020 presidential election dominated Google’s search traffic this year, which may or may not surprise you. In the days following the election, President Donald Trump has fought the results of the election, filing numerous lawsuits in different states alleging widespread voter fraud.

Of the lawsuits filed, none have changed the outcome of the race for the White House, but Trump continues to challenge the results of what he’s referred to as “the most corrupt election in the history of our country.”

On Dec. 24, the Electoral College confirmed Joe Biden as the nation’s next president with 306 electoral votes to Trump’s 232. Kamala Harris will become the first woman and woman of color as vice president.

“I am humbled by the trust and confidence you have placed in me,” Biden said in his victory speech. “I pledge to be a president who seeks not to divide, but to unify. Who doesn’t see red and blue states, but a United States.”


About the Author:

Lifetime Jacksonville resident, journalist and experienced broadcast news producer with a passion for classic and exotic cars.