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Top 10 most-read stories of 2020

Last Updated Dec 10, 2020 at 5:10 pm MDT

(CREDIT: iStock user Lisa Marie)

EDMONTON – There was no shortage of news in 2020, from the Iranian plane crash to the U.S. election to, of course, the pandemic.

But what were the stories that resonated with you, our readers, most?

We took a look at our website analytics and these were our most-read stories of 2020.

1. Oil field services company caught in controversy over graphic Greta Thunberg decal

An Alberta oil and gas services company ended up caught in controversy after an inappropriate decal surfaced online at the end of February.

A post has been circulating on social media of what appears to be a decal depicting teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg in a sex position with the logo of X-Site Energy Services on the bottom.

General Manager of X-Site Doug Sparrow told our partners in Calgary he had received hundreds of emails and social media messages complaining about it.

He claimed the company is not involved in making the sticker.

Sparrow said the entire situation has made him sick and even forced him to shut down his Facebook and Linkedin page because of the negative comments.

In February, Velocity Graphics in Red Deer said they had made custom decals for the company in the past, but clearly state online that they did not create these decals for X-Site.

2. Wearing a mask causes “stress and anxiety” for people with claustrophobia

Early on in the pandemic, masks were not widely recommended or even made mandatory as a way to protect yourself from the virus.

For some, the decision to wear a mask isn’t as simple as yes or no. For some, it’s a full-on battle with their mental health.

Dawn Rowntree, a hairstylist, has suffered from claustrophobia her entire life. She has issues boarding airplanes and sitting in movie theatres. As Canadians prepared for life with COVID-19, Rowntree worried about having to wear a mask every day for work.

Rowntree says working with a psychologist has helped a little. She practices wiggling her toes to shift her mental focus when she starts feeling anxious and tight-chested from wearing the mask.

However, Rowntree can’t do much to avoid the social stigma of not wearing a mask. She says she feels judged when out in public.

3. McDonald’s announces closures across Canada

It was a matter of days after Canada saw the beginning of its bout with the pandemic when governments declared states of emergency and lockdown measures were put into place across the country.

McDonald’s announced in March that it would be closing its restaurants to customers, leaving only delivery orders or drive-thrus as the only way for people to get their Big Mac fix.

It came about a week after the company announced it would be blocking off seating areas.

McDonald’s said the move is due to the guidance of health authorities, as well as employees and customers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Starbucks also made similar moves closing storefronts this weekend while still offering delivery.

4. Three patients dead: Edmonton hospital declares full COVID-19 outbreak

In mid-July, the Misericordia Hospital had to stop admitting patients as it tried to manage an outbreak at the hospital.

At that point, three patients had died and 20 patients and 15 staff members had tested positive for the virus.

The hospital, which is run by Catholic health provider Covenant Health, stopped allowing visitors except in end-of-life situations and postponed day procedures.

5. Mystery of abandoned Alberta car in New Mexico goes viral

In May, a photo of an abandoned car from Alberta in a New Mexico parking lot started trending on the r/Alberta subreddit.

Reddit user bigjimnm posted the photo of the Nissan Murano with Alberta plates, asking “Anybody know about this car? It’s been parked at the grocery store in Los Alamos, NM, USA for at least 6 months.”

The Los Alamos Police Department has confirmed to our friends at 660 NEWS in Calgary it was first notified of the vehicle in Sept 2019..

“It appears we had been called to the Smith’s Marketplace sometime in the last couple of months to investigate a Nissan vehicle with Alberta plates,” Los Alamos Police Department Commander Oliver Morris said.

“At that point, we didn’t identify a driver, however, there was no indication there was a criminal issue.”

He said the police department informed Smith’s Marketplace it would be treated as a civil matter, and the store would have to contact someone to tow the vehicle at its own expense.

6. Mom allegedly heckled with racial slurs outside West Edmonton Mall

An Edmonton mom says she and her two daughters were called racist names at a mall parking lot in January and it led to some tough questions from her children about their heritage.

Michelle Alexis and her two kids were leaving West Edmonton Mall when she made eye contact with a driver pulling out of a parking spot. Alexis and the driver exchanged glances, which she took to mean the driver was allowing Alexis and her family walk by.

“She came all the way back and backed into my daughter,” said Alexis. And that’s when she says the driver started hurling slurs.

She says her daughter asked why this always happens and if they were dirty or if they stink.

Edmonton police said an investigation was opened.

7. Ryan Reynolds sweetens Hayley Wickenheiser’s ask for medical supplies

Hayley Wickenheiser’s call for medical supplies for front-line health care workers in April got an assist from actor Ryan Reynolds.

The 42-year-old from Shaunavon, Sask., pled for masks, gloves and chemotherapy gowns on her Twitter account.

“After desperate pleas from my front line friends in Toronto, I have decided to put an ask out,” Wickenheiser wrote in her post. “These items are not for my use at all. I’m not seeking cash.”

Wickenheiser offered to pick up the items herself in Toronto with “proper distancing.”

Reynolds picked up the thread declaring “people who help Hayley” gather personal protective equipment “will get something awesome from me.”

The Canadian actor who starred in “Deadpool,” “Green Lantern” and “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” offered personalized videos and movie memorabilia.

8. Alberta could start handing out fines to those not following social distancing

After pictures on social media surfaced showing people visiting parks in large groups in March, the province warned it might take a harder stance on enforcing public health recommendations of social distancing.

Deputy Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Marcia Johnson indicated at that time that Alberta might follow similar measures that were introduced in Ontario and Manitoba.

“A plan is in place and will start to be rolled out over the next week, that will allow public-health inspectors to monitor large groups and restaurants and businesses,” Johnson said.

“There is also power being provided to officers so they can issue fines to deal with those who aren’t following the recommendations,” she added.

9. No indoor personal gatherings among new COVID-19 restrictions for Alberta

As Alberta struggled to get control of the second wave of COVID-19 following October holidays, the province announced a number of new restrictions on Nov. 24 in hopes of curbing the spread of the virus.

Premier Jason Kenney joined Dr. Deena Hinshaw for her daily update, telling the province it would be moving from recommendations to rules.

Kenney said social gatherings were the biggest culprit in the spread and announced the province would be banning all indoor social gatherings and capping outdoor gatherings at 10 people.

Sports were put on hold and retailers and places of worship were asked to operate at a 25 per cent capacity.

More restrictions would be announced weeks later.

10. Alberta: The 51st state?

A poll from Abacus Data came out in June suggesting our neighbours are open to buying the resource-rich province of Alberta.

This happened around the same time an MLA released his manifesto for separation–Wexit, if you will.

Nelson Wiseman, a political scientist with the University of Toronto told CityNews the rest of the country was watching and shaking its head.

“They think Alberta in some ways is doing very well and they don’t understand what it’s complaining about,” he said.

Kenney rejected the idea of independence after Drew Barnes sent a open letter to the premier calling for separation.

Wiseman also noticed Alberta tends to be the most sympathetic and most influenced by the U.S.

-with files from 660 NEWS, CityNews, and the Canadian Press