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Year in review: From COVID-19 to protests, how 2020 rocked Nebraska

A year of pain and hope in the Heartland
Posted at 7:14 PM, Dec 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-29 20:14:22-05

NEBRASKA (KMTV) — 2020 has been a challenging and historic year. COVID-19 ravaged large cities and small towns as life came to a screeching halt in the spring.

Then, racial injustice struck a chord in the nation as millions marched through the streets demanding change.

Soon after, a historic election with historic turnout left a mark on Nebraska and the entire nation.

This is the year in review.

It was March of 2020 when a mysterious illness called coronavirus made its way to Nebraska.

Despite hopes and efforts, there was no stopping the disease. COVID-19 spread and major events in the Omaha area were canceled including the NCAA basketball tournament at the CHI Health Center and the College World Series.

"We'll take the hit now and we'll move forward and hopefully everyday in the future will be brighter. But it's going to hurt," Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert said back in March.

Those event cancellations were also a prequel of the devastation local businesses would experience.

Life came to a halt.

Restaurants had to transition to carry-out only and the future of restaurants and bars was uncertain. The Green Room, a newly opened cocktail bar in Omaha, felt all their success being taken away.

"We were cruising man. We were so ready. The word was getting out and people started recognizing what the Green Room was, what we're about, we started developing this identity and then badda bing badda boom —corona," co-owner Matt Owens said.

In May, the death of George Floyd struck a chord of racial inequality in America. That pain traveled to Omaha and Lincoln, as thousands took to the streets.

"We deserve the right to protest you know? We deserve to be heard. We can't be muted anymore," Akani Kan said last May, as she protested near 72nd and Dodge.

Then during a night of violent protests in Omaha, 22-year-old James Scurlock was shot and killed amid the chaos.

Emotions were running high.

The City of Omaha was placed under curfew, but protesting continued. As the nation healed and grappled with how to move forward, a historic election was right around the corner.

Nebraska voters turned out in record numbers.

Now, nearing the end of 2020 and having experienced multiple historic and impactful changes and events...how do we move forward to 2021?

North Omaha community activist Preston Love Jr. said it will take a lot to fix the racial injustice across the country.

"I want to challenge all of the other parts of the community to listen and evaluate and seek out trusted and credible sources to devise actions that really can make a difference going forward. Not just to react and put a sign in your window saying Black Lives Matter," he said.

Although COVID-19 has ravaged through the state, taking lives, tiring out healthcare workers and affecting our way of life — with the rollout of the vaccine the end is hopefully near.

"I look forward as we get into 2021 that it will be a year where we will recover from this pandemic, we'll get back on our feet, and we'll start to enjoy those things that we come to appreciate maybe that much more," UNMC infectious disease expert Dr. Rupp said.