The history-making moments that have happened so far in 2020 — and we’re only halfway through

Remember when the president of the United States was facing two articles of impeachment and later acquitted by the Senate? Or how about when the Iowa Democratic presidential caucuses were plagued with technology issues?

As the world continues its battle to contain the novel coronavirus pandemic, it’s hard to remember a time before COVID-19 and social distancing wasn’t top of mind. The lives of people around the globe came to a screeching halt earlier this year, with the virus forcing most to stay at home, order necessities online and avoid physical interaction to help further prevent its spread.

This, on top of the May 25 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, which sparked protests across the country and ignited a racial reckoning in America, has designated 2020 as a true year for the history books. And we’re only halfway through.

Here is a look at some of the shocking events that happened, some of which you may have forgotten about (or simply feel like took place ages ago):

Australian wildfires

Bushfire damaged cars are seen at the Kangaroo Island Wilderness Retreat at the edge of Flinders Chase National Park on Feb. 25, 2020 in Kangaroo Island, Australia. (Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)

Australia faced one of its worst fire seasons in history beginning in 2019 and continuing into 2020 — which riveted the world as flames burned a record 47 million acres, displaced thousands of people and killed at least 34. Researchers said the fires also razed rare habitats and killed more than a billion animals.

On March 2, for the first time in 240 days, officials said not a single bush fire burned in the country’s most populous state of New South Wales.


Impeachment of President Donald Trump

President Donald Trump holds a copy of The Washington Post as he speaks in the East Room of the White House one day after the U.S. Senate acquitted on two articles of impeachment, on Feb. 6, 2020 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Image

In December 2019, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to impeach President Donald Trump on charges of abuse of power for asking Ukraine to investigate 2020 political rival Joe Biden while withholding aid as leverage, and obstruction of Congress for stonewalling the House's investigation.

But it was in 2020, on Jan. 16, that the House impeachment managers read aloud the impeachment articles against Trump, beginning the U.S. Senate trial. It was also this year that Trump delivered his State of the Union address, on Feb. 4, appearing to snub House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as she attempted to shake his hand and Pelosi later ripping up his speech.

The next day, on Feb. 5, the Senate ultimately voted to acquit Trump on the two articles of impeachment.

Tensions with Iran

Mourners attend a funeral ceremony of Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani and others who were killed in Iraq by a U.S. drone strike on Jan. 6, 2020 in Tehran, Iran. (Photo by Majid Saeedi/Getty Images)

At the start of 2020, many were concerned that the U.S. was on the brink of war with Iran.

A U.S. airstrike on Jan. 3 killed top Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani and others near Baghdad International Airport. It came after months of incidents raising tensions between the two countries, and ultimately saw Iran retaliate on Jan. 7 with a ballistic missile strike targeting American troops in Iraq.

Hours later, on Jan. 8, Iran's Revolutionary Guard accidentally shot down a Ukrainian jetliner after the government had repeatedly denied Western accusations that it was responsible. The crash killed all 176 people aboard.


Death of Kobe Bryant

NBA legend Kobe Bryant was killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, along with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others, on Jan. 26.

News of Bryant’s death sent shockwaves across Los Angeles and around the world. The 41-year-old had spent his entire 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers, winning five NBA championships and widely regarded as one of the greatest players of all time.

A public memorial service was held on Feb. 24 — or 2/24, marking both Kobe's and Gianna's basketball jersey numbers — at the Staples Center. The speakers included his wife, Vanessa, who was welcomed with a round of applause and standing ovation.


Iowa Caucus chaos

Pete Buttigieg speaks at the Rex Theater in his first public appearance since the Iowa Caucus the night before in Manchester, New Hampshire on Feb. 4, 2020. (Photo by JOSEPH PREZIOSO/AFP via Getty Images)

Amid many history-making moments in 2020, this year is also a presidential election year. At the beginning of the year, the Democratic field remained crowded.

The Feb. 3 Iowa Democratic caucuses became a disaster of epic proportions after a faulty mobile app and other problems led to a delay in reporting the results and inconsistencies in the numbers.

Nearly a month later, the Iowa Democratic Party central committee certified the results after the completion of a recount requested by the campaigns of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana. The results showed Buttigieg had 562.954 state delegate equivalents and Sanders had 562.021 — a margin of 0.04 percentage points.

Harvey Weinstein convicted

Harvey Weinstein leaves the Manhattan Criminal Court as a jury continues with deliberations on Feb. 21, 2020 in New York City. (Photo by TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty Images)

On the same day of Kobe Bryant’s funeral service in Los Angeles, Harvey Weinstein was convicted of rape and sexual assault in New York.

Accusations by dozens of women in 2017 destroyed his career and gave rise to #MeToo, the global movement to hold powerful men accountable for their sexual misconduct. On March 11 of this year, Weinstein was sentenced to 23 years in prison, a sight the Hollywood mogul's multitude of accusers thought they would never see.

Later in March, the 68-year-old former film producer was diagnosed with the coronavirus just days after he was moved to the state’s maximum security Wende Correctional Facility near Buffalo to begin serving his sentence.

On July 1, it was announced that Weinstein and his former studio’s board reached a nearly $19 million settlement with dozens of his sexual misconduct accusers.

COVID-19 pandemic

FILE - Generic surgical mask photographed on the floor of a parking lot. (Photo by Europa Press News/Europa Press via Getty Images)

In late February of 2020, The World Health Organization increased its risk assessment of the novel coronavirus to its highest level. The virus, which started in China in December 2019, had by that point spread to dozens of countries.

The WHO said June 30 marked six months since it received the first reports of “a cluster of cases of pneumonia of unknown cause in China," and officials with the organization have given a stark warning that COVID-19 is “not even close to being over.”

“Six months ago, none of us could have imagined how our world – and our lives – would be thrown into turmoil by this new virus,” Ghebreyesus said. “The pandemic has brought out the best and the worst of humanity.”

WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said June 29 during a media briefing that people should reflect on the progress made and lessons learned in the crisis. But Ghebreyesus also warned that “the worst is yet to come” and urged countries to “recommit ourselves to doing everything we can to save lives.”

Ghebreyesus’ message came as the world surpassed two grim coronavirus milestones on June 28: 500,000 confirmed deaths and 10 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 globally. The world also hit another high mark for daily new infections as governments that attempted hasty reopenings continued to backpedal.

The United States continues to lead the world in both the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 and deaths from the novel coronavirus, surpassing a staggering 2.6 million cases by July 1 with more than 128,000 Americans dead.

Dr. Anthony Fauci delivered a dire warning to Congress June 30 regarding the United States’ handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, saying that he “would not be surprised” if the country saw up to 100,000 new coronavirus cases daily "if this does not turn around."

Death of George Floyd

Protesters holding a giant banner reading GEORGE FLOYD at a march.

George Floyd was killed on May 25 by a Minneapolis police officer who used his knee to pin Floyd’s neck to the ground. The killing of a Black man at the hands of a white officer touched off protests against racism and police brutality across the United States and around the world.

Derek Chauvin, the officer seen on video kneeling on Floyd’s neck as he cried out that he couldn’t breathe, was charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. The other three former officers involved in Floyd’s death—Tou Thao, Thomas Lane and J. Alexander Kueng—were charged with two counts of aiding and abetting. 

This story was reported from Cincinnati. The Associated Press and KMSP contributed.