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As a new strain of coronavirus (COVID-19) swept through the world in 2020, preparedness plans, masking policies and more public policy changed just as quickly. WVXU has covered the pandemic's impact on the Tri-State from the very beginning, when on March 3, 2020, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine barred spectators from attending the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus over concerns about the virus, even though Ohio had yet to confirm a single case of COVID-19.

From The Pandemic To Politics: The Stories You Cared About Most In 2020

2020 most read wvxu
Clockwise from top: Susan Walsh/AP; Kings Island; Jason Whitman/WVXU; Marco Langbroek via Sattrackcam Blog; Andrew Harnik/AP

As we dug into the data to see which stories resonated with you most in 2020, two topics dominated, not at all unsurprisingly.

Our coverage of the pandemic and the election—mainly that of Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell—are largely what you, our dear readers, clicked on most this year. That's a departure from the lists of years past, where such roundups tended to be a potpourri of past subjects. (See: 2018 and 2019.)

Still, there are a few outliers that remind us there are things we cared about before the year seemingly went mad. Herewith, this year's list:

1. Neat To See, But Is Starlink Clogging The Night Sky?

Credit Courtesy of Marco Langbroek via SatTrackCam Blog


Tana Weingartner's story on billionaire Elon Musk's satellite internet program Starlink took the No. 1 spot, perhaps because many of you looked up and often wondered, what are those weird lights in the sky? We at least know the Cincinnati Observatory fielded a lot of questions about it.

"It's incredible, you're outside watching the sky and you can see these slow-moving lights go one after the other after the other, and it's just kind of eerie," astronomer Dean Regas said. "You think something is going on here, some invasion is happening, but it's really these communication satellites called Starlink."

2. Cincinnati Confirms First Cases Of COVID-19.

On March 13, Bill Rinehart wrote about how UC Health reported four people in Butler County had tested positive for the virus, with all four treated and released. As of this writing 10 months later on Dec. 23, Ohio has reported more than 570,000 confirmed cases, 35,500 hospitalizations, and 7,530 confirmed deaths due to coronavirus.

3. Analysis: Mitch McConnell Could Lose Even If He Wins

mitch mcconnell
Credit Susan Walsh / AP


As many expected, Mitch McConnell won a seventh six-year term in the Senate, despite a strong showing by Democratic challenger Amy McGrath. But on Oct. 21, WVXU Senior Political Analyst Howard Wilkinson wrote about how McConnell, also the powerful Majority Leader of the U.S. Senate, could win the battle on Nov. 3 but lose the war—the battle being his bid for re-election and the war being control of the Senate. That war, in fact, still hasn't come to a conclusion.

4. Hamilton County Could Soon Turn 'Purple' On Ohio's COVID-19 Advisory Map

In October, Hamilton County Health Commissioner Greg Kesterman said if current trends continued, it would be "inevitable" the county would reach "purple," the highest and most severe level of spread for COVID-19. Commissioners urged residents to "do what we know works," as President Denise Driehaus said: "Wear the mask, wash your hands and socially distance." It appears everyone obliged, as the county did not—and so far has not—turned purple.

5. There's A Method To That Line Outside Kroger

At the start of the pandemic, Ann Thompson wrote about how Kroger was using camera sensors and predictive analytics to manage crowds at its stores. Originally deployed to speed up checkout times, it turns out the technology also notifies an employee when a store has reached 50% capacity. "Workers will then direct shoppers to form a line outside and maintain the recommended six-foot distancing while they wait. When shoppers exit, waiting customers will be let in," Grocery Dive's Senior Editor Jeff Wells reports.

6. McConnell-McGrath Race Is Expensive, But Is It Close?

In October conversations with both McConnell and McGrath, Cincinnati Edition host Michael Monks spoke with both candidates about why voters should cast their ballots for them, and then turned to Wilkinson for his analysis. "(McGrath) is getting strong with her messaging, but I don't know that it's taking hold in the public polling yet," Wilkinson said at the time.

7. Cincinnati Rescinds Public Distancing Rule Amid DeWine's Stay-Home Turnabout

coronavirus smale park
Credit Courtesy of Jason Whitman
Ignoring social distancing protocol and regulations, people have taken to tearing down the caution tape that once cordoned-off public swings along the Ohio River at Smale Park on Mary 16, 2020.


Confusion ensued at City Hall in May when Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine unexpectedly cut short the state's stay-at-home rules. While Mayor John Cranley said at the time that he "would like a couple days to review everything," he did in fact rescind a previously issued order requiring Cincinnatians maintain six-feet of distance in public.

8. Ohio, When It Comes To Choosing Presidents, You're It

joe biden kamala harris win
Credit Andrew Harnik / AP


This story by Wilkinson from 2015 gains traction every year there's a presidential election—though come the next one in 2024 it will need to be updated. When Democrat Joe Biden secured the 270 Electoral College votes to win the presidency, it marked the first time in 60 years that Ohio failed to choose the winner after the state went for President Donald Trump by 8 percentage points in 2020, as it did in 2016.

9. Kings Island Taking Steps To Respond To Neighbors' Noise Complaints

Credit Courtesy of Kings Island


In February, Weingartner wrote about how neighbors concerned about loud roller coasters running late at night at Kings Island may be getting some relief after parent company Cedar Fair told the group it will add sand to the tracks of the Orion and Diamondback roller coasters.

10. Everything You Need To Know To Vote In Kentucky's 2020 Primary

After more than a month-long delay due to the coronavirus pandemic, Kentuckians finally headed to the polls on Tuesday, June 23. And they went prepared thanks to this explainer on how they could confirm they were registered; how to find out where they could vote; and what people and issues they would see on the ballot.

Jennifer Merritt brings 20 years of "tra-digital" journalism experience to WVXU.