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WOSU's Most Read News Stories Of 2021

 Outside of the abandoned overpass near Scioto Audubon Metro Park. The overpass is set to come down in 2022.
Michael Lee
Outside of the abandoned overpass near Scioto Audubon Metro Park. The overpass is set to come down in 2022.

The COVID-19 pandemic continued to dominate daily life in 2021. During its second year, news coverage shifted to vaccine distribution and new variants while problems with continued Ohio's unemployment compensation system.

Stories from the aftermath of the 2020 election and the January 6 U.S. Capital insurrection continued to influence politics over the last 12 months, especially on the local level with heated school board races.

Despite the ongoing tensions, there were still heartwarming stories in 2021, like that of a homeless man being helped by the Gahanna community. WOSU also produced stories that piqued our curiosity, like the update to Columbus' abandoned highway overpass as seen in the image above.

Here are WOSU's 10 most-viewed stories of 2021 ranked by pageviews:

1. Ohio State Student Government Asks School Not To Renew Wendy's Lease
March 12, 2021
A multi-year effort by Ohio State students to advocate for Wendy’s to join The Fair Food Program partnership continued. In March, Ohio State's student government voted to ask the school not to renew Dublin-based Wendy's location in Doan Hall within the Wexner Medical Center.

2. Some Ohio School Board Members Receive Threats Over Curriculum
September 21, 2021
Public school board members throughout Ohio reported threats and harassment from parents and taxpayers over what is being taught in their schools or often what people think is being taught. School boards became battlegrounds over Critical Race Theory, which isn't taught in K-12 schools in Ohio, as well face masks mandates to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

3. Battelle Got Hundreds Of Millions To Clean N95 Masks. How'd That Go?
March 8, 2021

In this Saturday, April 11, 2020 file photo, protective masks hang in a decontamination unit at the Battelle N95 decontamination site during the coronavirus pandemic in Somerville, Mass.
Michael Dwyer
Associated Press

In the early days of the pandemic, Columbus' Battelle developed a system housed in shipping containers to clean N95 masks, which were in short supply for medical professionals. WOSU took a look at how Battelle's system, which aimed to decontaminate up to 20 million masks a month, performed a year into the pandemic as a part of our A Year of COVID series.

4. Man Living On Gahanna Sidewalk 'Adopted' By Community
September 21, 2021

Hamilton Road at Rocky Fork Dr. S.jpg
Alexander Cash leaves most of his possessions on the sidewalk on Hamilton Road when he visits a nearby business.

WOSU's Debbie Holmes reported on the story of Alexander Cash who has lived on a sidewalk in Gahanna for the past couple of years, and how the community and businesses have come to his aid.

5. Curious Cbus: How Do I Get The Johnson & Johnson Vaccine?
March 29, 2021
During the first half of 2021, finding a vaccine appointment was challenging as more age groups became eligible to receive the shot in Ohio. At the same time, Johnson & Johnson's single-dose vaccine received emergency use authorization from the FDA. The scramble to schedule an appointment increased as some people sought out the J&J vaccine because it consisted of a single shot as opposed to the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines that required two shots over the span of three weeks.

6. Thin Crowd At Ohio Statehouse Draws Few Trump Supporters, Plenty Of National Guard
January 17, 2021
Eleven days after the deadly U.S. Capital insurrection and just two days before the inauguration of President Joe Biden, the FBI warned of potential violence and armed marches by pro-Trump demonstrators at state capitals across the county. In Columbus, the Statehouse windows were boarded up and Capital Square had a heavy security presence from the state's national guard and highway patrol. The number of protesters turned out to be smaller than anticipated in part due to snow showers and a Cleveland Browns game.

7. How To Register For Ohio's Vax-A-Million Sweepstakes
May 17, 2021

During a statewide address in May, Gov. DeWine announced Ohio would be giving away five $1 million prizes and five full-ride college scholarships over the course of a month to help boost lagging vaccination levels. Many states launched similar drawings after DeWine was the first in the nation to introduce a sweepstakes. Ohio initially saw an uptick in vaccinations after the announcement and 2.8 million residents entered the sweepstakes prior to the first drawing.

8. Columbus Residents Face Federal Charges For Pandemic Unemployment Fraud
March 5, 2021
Three Columbus residents faced federal charges for allegedly filing fraudulent pandemic unemployment applications. Many states reported fraud in their unemployment programs. In Ohio, top government officials including DeWine reported fraudulent claims had been made in their names. In October, Ohio Auditor Keith Faber reported the state overpaid nearly $3.8 billion in fraud and unemployment benefits.

9. Some Bonus Unemployment Checks Delayed As Ohio Continues To Update System
January 25, 2021
The federal government authorized an additional $300 weekly unemployment checks in January, but some Ohioans did not receive the additional money due to fraud controls placed on the money by the federal government.

10. Downtown Columbus Abandoned Overpass To Come Down in 2022
July 6, 2021

Justin-Paul Villanueva
Catalyst Columbus/VillaCreative LLC

In 2018, WOSU's Curious Cbus series looked into why there was an abandoned overpass near the Scioto Audubon Metro Park over I-70 and I-71. Back then, the overpass was slated to come down in 2020. But it remained in place in 2021, and was even used as a canvas for a mural during the COVID-19 pandemic. WOSU looked into what was going to happen to the overpass.

Nick Houser leads the digital media team and oversees all things digital, including wosu.org, digital content, the WOSU Public Media Mobile App, social media, enewsletters, podcasts and on-demand video.