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Credit: KUOW Photos by Megan Farmer and Genna Martin

2021: Looking back on the year, in pictures

The story of 2021 began on a hopeful note in the greater Seattle area, with the promise of vaccines after a devastating year of Covid. This year would be a light at the end of the tunnel — or so we thought.

H

ope turned quickly to trepidation as the January 6th insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and subsequent threats against state capitols across the country followed. In Olympia, the Washington State Capitol Building turned into a secure fortress. Seven hundred and fifty National Guard members were at the ready as protesters armed with AR-15s gathered ahead of the legislative session.

In February, a snow storm put thousands of people living outdoors at risk. The next month, and throughout the entire year, everyday Seattleites pooled their resources and attempted to plug holes in a system that leaves thousands in the city without shelter or basic necessities. These efforts, referred to as mutual aid, are independent — they’re not tied to the city or any particular organization.

As vaccine access expanded, families began to reunite with one another after months of separation. Grandparents were able to meet their grandchildren for the first time. Students returned to in-person classes, and in June, Seattle area high-school seniors graduated together in-person.

The year also brought significant weather events to the Northwest: record-breaking heat in June, catastrophic flooding in November, and in December, the lowest temperatures recorded in the Seattle area since the mid-20th century.

Toward the end of the year, more than a thousand teenagers in King County protested their school districts, saying administrators are slow to investigate cases of sexual assault, resulting in some victims being stuck in class with their abusers. This generation is saying, “Enough is enough,” said Nicole McNichols, an associate teaching professor in Psychology at the University of Washington.

The hopeful note that the year began on was in sharp contrast with the way that the year ended. The omicron variant of Covid-19 is driving the highest surge of cases King County has seen since the start of the pandemic. Health officials warned that the sharp rise in positive cases “could lead to a situation where life-saving and hospital care is denied to those who need it.”

Health officials have predicted that January 2022 will bring the highest infection rates ever seen during this pandemic. But some say they’re optimistic that this wave won't be as deadly as others.

Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health says he remains hopeful that 2022 will usher in the final chapter of the pandemic for many people.

"There will be a day – I suspect in 2022 – when most...realize that they haven’t thought about covid in weeks," Jha said Wednesday in an interview with NPR's On Point. "And that’ll be the day that the pandemic is over for them. And that doesn’t mean covid will be gone. But each wave has less and less of an impact on how many people it gets really really sick and kills."

The below images were taken by visual journalists Megan Farmer and Genna Martin in 2021.

caption: The Paramount Theatre marquee reads 'One Year Closed 3/11/20 - 3/11/21,' as the sun sets on Thursday, March 11, 2021, along Pine Street in Seattle.
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The Paramount Theatre marquee reads 'One Year Closed 3/11/20 - 3/11/21,' as the sun sets on Thursday, March 11, 2021, along Pine Street in Seattle.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer
caption: Cleveland Stem High School senior Julia Nuñez Alvarez celebrates after picking up her diploma on Tuesday, June 15, 2021, during an in-person commencement ceremony at Memorial Stadium in Seattle.
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Cleveland Stem High School senior Julia Nuñez Alvarez celebrates after picking up her diploma on Tuesday, June 15, 2021, during an in-person commencement ceremony at Memorial Stadium in Seattle.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer
caption: A crowd of masked people listen as Madeline The Person performs on Friday, November 12, 2021, at Neumos along East Pike Street in Seattle.
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A crowd of masked people listen as Madeline The Person performs on Friday, November 12, 2021, at Neumos along East Pike Street in Seattle.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer
caption: Lauren Alexander is vaccinated against Covid-19 on Thursday, April 15, 2021, at the Lumen Field Event Center in Seattle. As of Thursday, anyone 16 years of age and older is eligible to receive the vaccine.
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Lauren Alexander is vaccinated against Covid-19 on Thursday, April 15, 2021, at the Lumen Field Event Center in Seattle. As of Thursday, anyone 16 years of age and older is eligible to receive the vaccine.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer
caption: Two people walk through snow as the sun comes up on Saturday, February 13, 2021, along 20th Avenue Northwest near the intersection of NW Market Street in Seattle.
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Two people walk through snow as the sun comes up on Saturday, February 13, 2021, along 20th Avenue Northwest near the intersection of NW Market Street in Seattle.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer
caption: Burlesque performer Mx. Pucks A' Plenty applies lip gloss on Friday, April 9, 2021, at the new Burlesque co-op space, along Northwest Market Street in Seattle.
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Burlesque performer Mx. Pucks A' Plenty applies lip gloss on Friday, April 9, 2021, at the new Burlesque co-op space, along Northwest Market Street in Seattle.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer
caption: The observation area of a mass Covid-19 vaccination site set to open on Saturday is shown on Wednesday, March 10, 2021, inside the Lumen Field Events Center in Seattle. The site will be the largest civilian-led vaccination site in the country.
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The observation area of a mass Covid-19 vaccination site set to open on Saturday is shown on Wednesday, March 10, 2021, inside the Lumen Field Events Center in Seattle. The site will be the largest civilian-led vaccination site in the country.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer
caption: Safia Hussein, center, hugs her sons, 4th-grade student Anwaar Boneya, left, and 2nd-grade student Sabir Boneya, right, before they head into their first day of school at Wing Luke Elementary School on Wednesday, September 1, 2021, along Kenyon Street in Seattle.
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Safia Hussein, center, hugs her sons, 4th-grade student Anwaar Boneya, left, and 2nd-grade student Sabir Boneya, right, before they head into their first day of school at Wing Luke Elementary School on Wednesday, September 1, 2021, along Kenyon Street in Seattle.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer
caption: A line of vaccine tents are lit up as the sun goes down on Thursday, January 28, 2021, during a free drive-thru Covid-19 vaccination clinic at the Washington State Fair Events Center in Puyallup. The clinic vaccinated approximately 2,000 people in phases 1A and 1B of the state’s vaccination plan on Thursday.
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A line of vaccine tents are lit up as the sun goes down on Thursday, January 28, 2021, during a free drive-thru Covid-19 vaccination clinic at the Washington State Fair Events Center in Puyallup. The clinic vaccinated approximately 2,000 people in phases 1A and 1B of the state’s vaccination plan on Thursday.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer
caption: From left, Joscelyn and Cass DuVani deliver a new tent, shoes, clothing, soup, and a tarp along with several other items to Tedra, 24, who is experiencing houselessness on Friday, March 5, 2021, underneath Interstate 5 along South Dearborn Street in Seattle. Tedra's tent and belongings had caught fire the previous evening.
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From left, Joscelyn and Cass DuVani deliver a new tent, shoes, clothing, soup, and a tarp along with several other items to Tedra, 24, who is experiencing houselessness on Friday, March 5, 2021, underneath Interstate 5 along South Dearborn Street in Seattle. Tedra's tent and belongings had caught fire the previous evening.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer
caption: Student William Holcomb does an underwater welding exercise in a diving tank at the Diver's Institute of Technology.
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Student William Holcomb does an underwater welding exercise in a diving tank at the Diver's Institute of Technology.
Credit: Genna Martin for KUOW
caption: Vasili Vouros, center, and John Cain Jr., right, slip n' slide with their kids in Vouros's front yard on Monday, June 28, 2021, in Skyway. The National Weather Service recorded 108 degrees in SeaTac on Monday, setting an all-time record for the area.
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Vasili Vouros, center, and John Cain Jr., right, slip n' slide with their kids in Vouros's front yard on Monday, June 28, 2021, in Skyway. The National Weather Service recorded 108 degrees in SeaTac on Monday, setting an all-time record for the area.
Credit: Genna Martin for KUOW
caption: Sophia Almanza, 6, stands with her sister, Michelle Alamaza, 9, and mother, Jessica Villa, before her first day of 4th-grade at Mount View Elementary school on Thursday, September 2, 2021, in Seattle.
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Sophia Almanza, 6, stands with her sister, Michelle Alamaza, 9, and mother, Jessica Villa, before her first day of 4th-grade at Mount View Elementary school on Thursday, September 2, 2021, in Seattle.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer
caption: Juliet Prine and James Kirby Rogers rehearse for the Pacific Northwest Ballet's Nutcracker performance on Friday, November 19, 2021, at McCaw Hall in Seattle.
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Juliet Prine and James Kirby Rogers rehearse for the Pacific Northwest Ballet's Nutcracker performance on Friday, November 19, 2021, at McCaw Hall in Seattle.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer
caption: Fans of Deep Sea Diver cheer as the band performs on Friday, November 12, 2021, at Showbox in Seattle.
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Fans of Deep Sea Diver cheer as the band performs on Friday, November 12, 2021, at Showbox in Seattle.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer
caption: A Seattle Parks and Recreation employee discards a hand written sign that was left behind after unhoused community members were swept from the Ballard Commons Park on Tuesday, December 7, 2021, in Seattle.
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A Seattle Parks and Recreation employee discards a hand written sign that was left behind after unhoused community members were swept from the Ballard Commons Park on Tuesday, December 7, 2021, in Seattle.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer
caption: Kindergarten students at Jackson Elementary play on a playground during recess on Tuesday, March 23, 2021, at the school along Federal Avenue in Everett. With hybrid learning, students have the option to attend in-person classes two days per week.
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Kindergarten students at Jackson Elementary play on a playground during recess on Tuesday, March 23, 2021, at the school along Federal Avenue in Everett. With hybrid learning, students have the option to attend in-person classes two days per week.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer
caption: Homes are shown surrounded by flood waters on Tuesday, November 16, 2021, east of Mount Vernon.
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Homes are shown surrounded by flood waters on Tuesday, November 16, 2021, east of Mount Vernon.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer
caption: Police guard the Washington State Capitol building on Monday, January 11, 2021, in Olympia. Armed protesters gathered on the opposite side of the fence on the first day of the legislative session in Olympia.
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Police guard the Washington State Capitol building on Monday, January 11, 2021, in Olympia. Armed protesters gathered on the opposite side of the fence on the first day of the legislative session in Olympia.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer
caption: Hope Black holds her son, Arlo, as he hits a homemade coronavirus themed piñata during his 1st birthday party on Saturday, May 29, 2021, in the backyard of their home on Vashon Island.
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Hope Black holds her son, Arlo, as he hits a homemade coronavirus themed piñata during his 1st birthday party on Saturday, May 29, 2021, in the backyard of their home on Vashon Island.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer
caption: Seattle police officers walk through Denny Park before sweeping unhoused people from the area on Wednesday, March 3, 2021, in Seattle.
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Seattle police officers walk through Denny Park before sweeping unhoused people from the area on Wednesday, March 3, 2021, in Seattle.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer
caption: Zirahuen Herrejon-Crutcher, a student at Ballard High School, details her experience with sexual assault and how it was handled by the school district, to the Seattle Public Schools school board, on Wednesday, December 1, 2021, in Seattle.
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Zirahuen Herrejon-Crutcher, a student at Ballard High School, details her experience with sexual assault and how it was handled by the school district, to the Seattle Public Schools school board, on Wednesday, December 1, 2021, in Seattle.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer
caption: Jackson Elementary kindergarteners return from recess on Tuesday, March 23, 2021, at Jackson Elementary School along Federal Avenue in Everett. With hybrid learning, students have the option to attend in-person classes two days per week.
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Jackson Elementary kindergarteners return from recess on Tuesday, March 23, 2021, at Jackson Elementary School along Federal Avenue in Everett. With hybrid learning, students have the option to attend in-person classes two days per week.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer
caption: About 100 people attended a rally and march organized by Afghans of Seattle, a new organization composed of young Afghan-Americans in the greater Seattle area, to stand in solidarity with Afghans on Saturday, August 28, 2021, at Westlake Park in Seattle.
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About 100 people attended a rally and march organized by Afghans of Seattle, a new organization composed of young Afghan-Americans in the greater Seattle area, to stand in solidarity with Afghans on Saturday, August 28, 2021, at Westlake Park in Seattle.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer
caption: Cassandra Cast, second from left, smiles while holding her 9-month-old grandson, Zoli Rae, next to her daughter, LaTriece Arthur, left, daughter-in-law Christina Arthur, and Christina's mom, Barbara Arthur, right, on Monday, April 19, 2021, at LaTriece and Christina Arthur's home on Vashon Island. Cassandra Cast and Barbara Arthur traveled from Boston and Atlanta, respectively, to meet their grandson Zoli Rae for the first time.
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Cassandra Cast, second from left, smiles while holding her 9-month-old grandson, Zoli Rae, next to her daughter, LaTriece Arthur, left, daughter-in-law Christina Arthur, and Christina's mom, Barbara Arthur, right, on Monday, April 19, 2021, at LaTriece and Christina Arthur's home on Vashon Island. Cassandra Cast and Barbara Arthur traveled from Boston and Atlanta, respectively, to meet their grandson Zoli Rae for the first time.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer