As 2021 draws to a close, we look back on a year full of new things. There have been stories like the never-ending COVID-19 pandemic and the effort to draw the boundaries of a new congressional district for Oregon. And there have been surveys that we’ve dug deep into. Here are seven big questions from 2021 that OPB journalists have tried to answer in the year that draws to a close.
Second year of COVID: when and how will this pandemic end?
It’s no surprise that the coronavirus pandemic is at the top of this list. To date, more than 800,000 American lives have been claimed by COVID-19. While 2021 included vaccines for the majority of the general public, and more recently approved doses for young children and booster shots, we’ve also seen two worrisome variants – delta and omicron – and more waves of cases.
The pandemic has continued to have a significant impact on Oregon residents in aspects of life ranging from education and jobs to overcrowded hospitals. Here’s a look at some of the biggest stories:
How do I register for the COVID-19 vaccine?
Returning to ‘normal’ in Oregon means gaining collective immunity against COVID-19
Governor Kate Brown holds ceremony to honor loss and resilience in Oregon as state reopens
Portland Public School Students Return for Day 1 of ‘Real School’
School Quarantines Provide Lessons to Portland Districts on the South Coast
Oregon’s biggest universities inundated with nerves, excitement, as students move in
More than a month later, private colleges in Oregon avoid COVID-19 outbreaks on campus
What you need to know about Monday’s mega-mandate for COVID-19 vaccinations
COVID questions: it has been a long time since we talked about testing
Q&A: What to know about the COVID vaccine for children
COVID Questions: Why ‘Natural Immunity’ Is Not Enough, Explained With Skittles
Oregon to implement ‘test-to-stay’ program in K-12 schools
Mask warrants help, but COVID-19 infection rates are determined by many factors
Unresolved Death Investigation: Who Killed Sean Kealiher, and What Justice Looks Like?
In OPB’s 10-episode “Dying For A Fight” podcast, we explore the life and death of Sean Kealiher. While Kealiher, an anti-fascist and anarchist protester, was killed in Portland in 2019, his death remains unclear.
The Struggles of Oregon’s Largest City: What Should âPublic Safetyâ Look Like in Portland?
As protests dominated the news about Portland in 2020, the city and its government faced even more challenges in 2021, including a growing homeless crisis, a record number of homicides and a – city uncertain of its future. OPB reporter Rebecca Ellis covers Portland extensively, and in 2021 she investigated a hot topic.
Read his three-part series on the role and rise of private security in Portland:
The sudden and disturbing rise of a private police force in downtown Portland
Police and prosecutors wary of increased role for private security in downtown Portland
Portland city officials welcome private security firm investigations, though prosecutors are skeptical
A trend of 2020 continued in 2021: the overthrow of public statues nationwide. Figures of generals and Confederate presidents were typical targets. The downed statues sparked conversations about the historical and current portrayal of individuals and groups in art – concerning both the creators and the subjects. In 2021, âThink Out Loudâ and OPB’s Arts & Culture team dug deep.
Portland Opera Performance Focuses On Black Experience
Transgender, non-binary and gender non-conforming singers finding their voices
Portland photographer focuses on black cowboy culture
New grant to support Indigenous artists and culture
Never Look Away – A three story mural celebrating LGBTQ icons
The York Statue and the Value of Public Art
Emerging BIPOC, LGBTQ + and disabled artists find their home in the Downstairs gallery
A conversation about public art and monuments
A powerful new musical voice emerges from eastern Oregon
Portland Playhouse aims for “a space for us to be together” on and off the stage
In the spring of 2021, the Oregonians learned the state would win a sixth seat in Congress. Over the following months, the OPB Politics team kept a close eye on the debates surrounding the state’s new district proposals. What ensued included negotiations at the 11th hour, then a trial and a court battle.
Oregon to get 6th seat in Congress
What’s going on with Oregon’s redistribution effort?
Former Oregon Secretary of State Bev Clarno Files Lawsuit to Challenge Dems’ Congressional Redistribution Map
Behind-the-scenes deal sparks tensions as Oregon House Democrats jockey to replace President Tina Kotek
Judicial panel backs new districts of Oregon Democratic Congress
New Oregon Congress Map Now Final
Historic heat, wildfires and drought hit Oregon this summer, as temperatures are rising around the world. It was the focal point of international leaders this fall at the United Nations COP26. Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland. Throughout the year, OPB science and environment journalists searched for answers.
Extreme heat and drought hit Oregon
Marbled Murrelet Achieves Endangered Status in Oregon as Climate Change Threatens Survival
For some, the climate crisis is leading to anxiety, depression and grief
Bootleg, Biscuit, Rosland and Milli: Lessons from Past and Current Fires
Oregon scientist strives to extract more carbon that warms the planet from the atmosphere
PGE Accelerates Clean Energy Plans to Meet Tighter Carbon Pollution Standards
Global climate pledge could change Oregon’s relationship with natural gas
Recovery after fire depends on cascading snow cover, study finds
Oregon scientists call for more forest protection to fight climate change, save species
State approves new ‘more aggressive’ climate protection program
Superabundant, OPB’s digital video series, debuted in six episodes in 2021. Each episode featured a local ingredient and sought to understand the history of regional food systems.