Reflecting on Orange County’s Resiliency in The Year of Pandemic, Protests, Fires, Elections

JULIE LEOPO, Voice of OC

An open sign left hanging on a closed buisness window in downtown Santa Ana.

The year 2020 in Orange County strained residents like no other — a pandemic, an economic crisis, strains on mental health and wildfires.

But as we greet the new year let us also remember the light that shone through this past one.

When a few protesters left windows shattered and stores raided, residents rallied to clean up their streets.

When wildfires ravaged the canyons and sent 100,000 people fleeing amidst a pandemic, churches opened their doors to serve as additional evacuation centers.

When fiercely-debated election races divided friends and family, we saw thought-out and civil discourse around quality of life issues in our Community Opinion section.

When tens of thousands of people faced unemployment and economic uncertainty, food banks and congregations stepped up to provide more food for those in need.

As hospitals overflow with patients battling Coronavirus, doctors and nurses work overtime in layers of protective gear to try to save as many lives as possible.

As residents struggled with isolation amid stay at home orders, people banded together virtually to support each other’s mental health.

The past 12 months were certainly filled with strife. But every struggle reminds us of the power in community, compassion and selflessness.

In 2020 Voice of OC reached new staggering numbers for a small nonprofit. We brought in more than 6 million unique readers. We totaled more than 23 million page views. We nearly doubled our following across social media channels. We added hundreds of readers in new presences on Apple News, Google News and Flipboard.

And while this year, and years to come, will stress nonprofits like ours — hundreds of readers became new donors to Voice of OC throughout 2020 joining an effort to reinvigorate local news in Orange County.

Here are Voice of OC’s top 20 stories in 2020 by audience reach and social engagement.

  1. OC Board of Education Panel Calls for a Fall Return to Classes with No Masks or Distancing
  2. OC’s Nonessential Businesses to be Shut Down Under Gov. Newsom’s Incoming Stay Home Order
  3. State Orders Regional Shutdown Covering OC and SoCal As Coronavirus Hospitalizations Skyrocket
  4. Orange County Voter Guide: November 2020 Election
  5. Huntington Beach Will Sue Over Gov. Newsom’s Order to Close OC Beaches; Newport Beach May Follow
  6. Orange County Residents Face Statewide Coronavirus Curfew Beginning Saturday
  7. Orange County Board of Education Decides To Sue Gov. Gavin Newsom Over School Closures
  8. Second Coronavirus Wave Hits Orange County
  9. OC Board of Education Recommends Return To School Without Masks Or Social Distancing
  10. In Wake of Raucous Protests, Santa Ana Residents Rally Around Clean Up
  11. Orange County’s Coronavirus Death, Hospitalization Rates Now Higher than San Diego, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties
  12. Silverado Canyon Fire Spreads to 7,200 Acres, Mandatory Evacuation in Irvine as Firefighters Battle High Winds
  13. Santa Ana Unified School District Creates Ethnic Studies Requirement in Wake of George Floyd Protests
  14. Santana: Orange County Supervisors Kill Off John Wayne Airport Renaming Discussion
  15. Orange County Hospitals May Have to Start Cancelling Non-Coronavirus Treatments
  16. Orange County Confirms First Case of Locally Transmitted Coronavirus
  17. OC to Ban All Public and Private Gatherings Under Emergency Health Order
  18. Gov. Newsom Closes Orange County’s Churches, Indoor Malls, Barber Shops and Gyms
  19. Orange County Officials No Longer Require Masks During Coronavirus Pandemic
  20. The Downplaying of Orange County’s Coronavirus Numbers