Looking back at our 2020 stories of the year

Wow, 2020 was quite a year. Now that it’s in the rear-view mirror, we breathe a sigh of relief and hope for brighter days in 2021.

As we look back on a year like no other, I want to mention a few of the big stories that dominated the headlines.

Story of the Year: Coronavirus

What else could it be?  The pandemic spread across the globe in a matter of weeks, from Wuhan, the “furnace of China,” all the way to Navajo Mountain, one of the most isolated areas in the entire nation.

The virus devastated a number of communities on the Navajo Reservation in San Juan County, and it wasn’t long before the Navajo Nation supplanted New York City as the national hotspot.

The virus seemed to focus on the most vulnerable among us, including claiming eight residents of a care center in Blanding.

Almost every area of the county was a hotspot at one point or another. By the end of the year, more than ten percent of county residents had tested positive for the virus and 34 had passed away.

The impacts extend beyond health care.  The virus had significant impacts on travel, education, business, religion, and government, touching every element of our lives.

The new year starts with a vaccine that offers hope to an end to one of the most disruptive events in 100 years.

Business of the Year: Utah Navajo Health System 

It was a very difficult year for local business in San Juan County.  The tourism and travel industry was decimated by the coronavirus, and local retailers were at a serious disadvantage when competing with the Walmarts and Amazons of the world. 

It was a terrible year for extraction industries, with job losses in the local oil and gas, copper, and uranium industries.

But it was an incredible year for Utah Navajo Health System.  In addition to its impressive operations and beautiful clinics, UNHS operated mobile clinics, coordinated significant outreach efforts, and organized massive relief programs.

The year ended with Pete Sands, the UNHS outreach coordinator, on the cover of Time magazine.

Athlete of the Year: Keyshawn Whitehorse 

Whitehorse, a resident of McCracken Springs, electrified the season-ending world finals of the Professional Bull Riders (PBR) tour. 

Whitehorse finished second overall at the world finals and seventh overall for the entire PBR tour. 

He was remarkable when the stakes were the highest, finishing the final week with three rides of 90 points or more. By comparison, he had previously received two scores above 90 in his entire career, which includes being the 2018 PBR Rookie of the Year.

San Juan Record

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