The most powerful photos of the year, so far

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  • The coronavirus pandemic, the presidential election, Black Lives Matter protests, and devastating wildfires are just a few of this year's major news stories.
  • More lighthearted events that happened this year include Jennifer Lopez and Shakira's Super Bowl halftime show performance and Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's last royal engagement.
  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

2020 has been a year unlike any other, and poignant photos have preserved some of its most powerful moments.

Major events such as the coronavirus pandemic, the US presidential election, global Black Lives Matter protests, and devastating wildfires resulted in dramatic images.

Photographers also captured more lighthearted events at the beginning of the year, such as Jennifer Lopez and Shakira's Super Bowl halftime show performance and Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's last royal engagement, before the coronavirus changed everything.

Here are the most powerful photos of 2020, so far. 

January 15: Australia remained ravaged by bushfires.

Beginning in September 2019, the bushfires razed over 27 million acres of land and killed at least 1 billion animals. By January 2020, New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian called for a third state of emergency.

February 2: Shakira and Jennifer Lopez dominated the stage at the Super Bowl LIV Halftime Show.

The Kansas City Chiefs defeated the San Francisco 49ers, 31-20.

During the high-energy halftime show, Shakira and Jennifer Lopez were joined on stage by Puerto Rican rapper Bad Bunny and Colombian singer J Balvin. Latinx and Spanish-speaking fans celebrated the show as a "triumph of representation," Insider reported at the time.

February 4: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi ripped up a copy of President Donald Trump's State of the Union address.

Pelosi told reporters that she ripped up the speech because "it was the courteous thing to do considering the alternatives." She also broke tradition by introducing Trump only as the "president of the United States," forgoing the customary phrase that she had the "high privilege and distinct honor" of introducing him.

February 6: Trump held up USA Today's front page showing news of his acquittal in his impeachment trial.

In November 2019, Trump became the third president in the history of the United States to be impeached. He was charged with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, and the Republican-controlled Senate cleared him of both charges.

February 24: Michael Jordan helped Vanessa Laine Bryant offstage at the Staples Center after she spoke at a memorial for her husband, Kobe Bryant, daughter Gianna, and seven others who were killed in a helicopter crash.

Bryant spent his 20-season career entirely with the Los Angeles Lakers. He was the third all-time scorer in the NBA and won five NBA championships.

He died along with his daughter and seven others on January 26.

February 29: Trump hugged and kissed an American flag after speaking at the 2020 Conservative Political Action Conference.

He also hugged and kissed the flag in 2019, and the moment was mocked on "Saturday Night Live."

March 3: Jill Biden fended off protesters at a Super Tuesday rally.

After the incident, Joe Biden joked, "I'm probably the only candidate running for president whose wife is my Secret Service."

March 5: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle made their first public joint appearance since announcing their departure from royal life.

Royal photographer Samir Hussein captured a perfectly timed photo of the couple as they attended the Endeavour Fund Awards.

"It was pouring down with rain, which can be very tricky when shooting flash photography and also meant Harry and Meghan would be under an umbrella, which usually means it's hard to get clean photos of the couple," Hussein shared a statement with British GQ magazine. "Little did I know these elements would come together so spectacularly to produce a timeless image of the couple."

March 12: Chairs sat empty at the deserted Piazza Vittorio during Italy's nationwide lockdown to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Italy was the first country to implement a nationwide lockdown on March 10 after it became the second-worst hit country by the virus besides China.

March 19: Panic-buying of toilet paper left shelves empty around the world.

Across the world, toilet paper shelves emptied as people stocked up for what felt like an impending apocalypse.

Experts told CNN that panic-buying could be a response to a feeling of lost control over the coronavirus, or a lack of clear direction from authorities.

April 15: Medical workers in New York City reacted to a city-wide round of applause as a show of gratitude for their work during the pandemic.

The applause became a daily occurence at 7 p.m. in New York City, which was the epicenter of the pandemic in the US in the spring.

April 17: President Trump watched Dr. Anthony Fauci speak at a press room briefing.

Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in November that Trump has ignored his advice and not met with him in over a month. Trump threatened to fire Fauci days before the election.

May 21: Painted circles on the grass in San Francisco's Dolores Park helped enforce social distancing.

Outdoor, socially distanced activities are lower risk than gathering indoors.

June 1: When George Floyd died after being pinned down by Minneapolis police officers, protesters marched for racial justice across the world.

Protests were held across the US, as well as in the UK, Germany, Italy, New Zealand, Canada, and more.

July 31: Romelia Navarro was comforted by a nurse as she wept at the bedside of her husband in St. Jude Medical Center's COVID-19 unit in Fullerton, California.

Over 250,000 people have died of COVID-19 in the US, as of November.

August 27: Usually packed with tourists, Times Square sat empty during New York City's Phase 4 reopening.

Phase 4 allowed outdoor arts and entertainment, sporting events without fans, and media productions. Broadway shows remain closed until May 2021.

September 10: A student in Culver City, California, followed along with the teacher's lesson remotely from a specialized enrichment center.

The back-to-school season varied across the US. Some schools returned to in-person classes with masks and social distancing, while others remained fully remote.

September 18: People gathered outside the Supreme Court following the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Justice Ginsburg died at age 87 due to complications from metastatic pancreatic cancer, according to an announcement from the Supreme Court.

October 13: Judge Amy Coney Barrett held up an empty notepad before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Barrett was confirmed eight days before Election Day, replacing the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's seat on the court.

October 7: Kamala Harris listened to Mike Pence with a bemused expression at the vice presidential debate.

Harris' facial expressions throughout the debate and reactions to the interruptions quickly became meme fodder on social media.

October 10: Trump removed his mask before speaking to a crowd of supporters at the White House.

Trump was diagnosed with COVID-19 on October 2 and hospitalized for three nights at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where he was treated with experimental drugs. 

October 26: A firefighter in Yorba Linda, California, watched the Blue Ridge Fire burn.

Wildfires in California burned more than 4 million acres (6,250 square miles) in 2020, breaking the record for the most acres burned in a year.

October 27: Demonstrators clashed with riot police in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, after the death of Walter Wallace Jr., a Black man who was shot by police.

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said there would be a number of reforms in response to the incident, Insider's Yelena Dzhanova reported. All officers will undergo a training in crisis intervention by fall of 2021, and the police department is implementing "a decision tree or a set of questions" geared "to help us identify those in crisis if they don't offer that information to us voluntarily," she said. 

October 29: Exhausted healthcare workers rested after treating COVID-19 patients in Hospital Juarez de Mexico in Mexico City, Mexico.

As the coronavirus pandemic worsens around the world, healthcare workers are working harder than ever.

November 5: AP photographer Evan Vucci captured a photo of Trump speaking with an exit sign in the foreground, signaling the impending end of his presidency.

"Even before media outlets called the 2020 presidential election for President-elect Joe Biden, President Donald Trump and his campaign were gearing up for a fight," wrote Insider's Jacob Shamsian.

November 7: A patient and a doctor communicated through layers of protective gear in Rome.

Patient Nazzareno Santilli was breathing under oxygen CPAP (continuous positive air pressure) headgear ventilation as he spoke to Dr. Elisabetta Teti in the sub-intensive COVID-19 unit of the Tor Vergata Polyclinic Hospital in Rome.

November 7: President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris stood with their spouses after delivering victory speeches in Wilmington, Delaware.

Biden won 290 electoral votes to Trump's 232. Trump has still refused to concede.

November 11: Relatives hugged through a plastic sheet at a care home in Castelfranco Veneto, Italy.

The care home built the special "hug room" to keep both parties safe from coronavirus infection.

November 7: Highways sat mostly empty across England as the country went into a second lockdown.

England went into a second lockdown on November 5 with restrictions on non-essential travel.

November 11: Changi Airport in Singapore also remained empty.

Experts say that the pandemic will likely change air travel going forward, with mask requirements and temperature screening becoming the norm.

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