(Bloomberg) — Some years in history are etched into the collective psyche of a nation or continent. Few resonate globally, irrespective of location, politics or economic circumstance.
From the loss of lives—more than 1.6 million and counting—to the loss of livelihoods, most of us will look back on 2020 through the prism of a pandemic whose devastation is still unfolding.
Most people had never heard the words “coronavirus” and “Covid-19” at the start of the year. Now they’re part of the daily vernacular of everyone from the youngest schoolchild to the most vulnerable pensioner.
The pandemic has upended how and where we work, travel, learn, worship and socialize. It’s fostered community spirit, but it’s also engendered resentment, blame and conspiracy theories as it strained health systems and closed national borders.
In the U.S., this was also a year when existing fault lines were further exposed, most notably those of race and inequality addressed by the Black Lives Matter movement. Images of empty streets, highways and airports were at times displaced by scenes of protest. The mask of unity in a world confronted by deadly infection slipped off, and tensions surfaced again and again.