Top stories of 2020: The most read stories on WINK News

Writer: Derrick Shaw
Published: Updated:
Credit: MGN

This year was a roller coaster of a year as Americans dealt with hurricanes, quarantine, unemployment, travel restrictions, remote learning, elections and the loss of loved ones to COVID-19.

We take a look back at the stories you read most on


This illustration, created at the Centers for Disease Control.

Lee County resident dies from coronavirus, one of first in the state; another presumptive case confirmed

A 70-year-old Lee County resident, who was a patient at Gulf Coast Medical Center in south Fort Myers, died of COVID-19 on March 5. ––> READ MORE

File: Unemployment website

FAQ: Unemployment Resources

Unemployment issues as a whole were one of our most-read topics of 2020. WINK News assigned reporter Sara Girard as a full-time unemployment reporter. She went to work getting you answers and created an unemployment page to include complete coverage and a Q&A to help navigate the complex reemployment system. ––> READ MORE

A helicopter unit responds to the fire at the rental overflow area of RSW airport Friday, April 3, 2020. Credit: John Broadhead.

Fire destroyed nearly 4,000 cars at RSW rental lot, causing $100M in damage

A huge fire damaged thousands of rental cars near the Southwest Florida International Airport in April, and investigators have ruled the fire accidental, citing potential hot exhaust over dry grass. The 15-acre fire on April 3 destroyed 3,991 vehicles parked at an overflow rental car parking lot. ––> READ MORE

12-year-old Buddah. Credit: WINK News.

SWFL dog owner says possible serious side effects from flea/tick medication

A Southwest Florida pet owner has a warning for others about possible side effects from a popular flea and tick medication. The local dog owner says people’s dogs could end up with lost mobility and limping. We also spoke to a veterinarian about the commonality of these side effects. ––> READ MORE

Now hiring (WINK News)

Companies hiring in SWFL

In March, the coronavirus lockdowns started putting people in Southwest Florida out of work, but the shutdown didn’t negatively impact every business. Grocery stores and delivery are some of the industries that flourished. In response, we created a list of companies that were hiring, and that quickly became one of our most visited pages of the year. If you’re still in need of work, check it out. ––> READ MORE

DJ Conrad Buchanan

Beloved DJ in Lee County dies of coronavirus

DJ Conrad Buchanan died from COVID-19 on March 26. Buchanan was in his late thirties and left behind his wife and two children. He shared a Facebook post about his diagnosis of COVID-19, urging everyone to take the virus seriously. Buchanan’s death was the fourth confirmed in Lee County due to coronavirus. ––> READ MORE

FWC Officer Julian Keen (Credit: FWC)

Off-duty FWC officer shot and killed in LaBelle

An officer with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) was shot and killed in LaBelle on June 14. Authorities said 30-year-old Julian Keen Jr. was off-duty in the area of Nobles Road and Apache Circle when he was shot. This is near the intersection of SR-78. The Hendry County Sheriff’s Office later arrested Eliceo Hernandez, 20, and charged him with negligent homicide for his death. Keen had been with the FWC since 2014. ––> READ MORE


Social Security recipients will automatically get stimulus checks, Treasury says in a reversal

The Treasury Department said that Americans on Social Security will not be required to file a “simple tax return” to receive a stimulus check from the U.S. government. The announcement reversed an earlier statement from the Internal Revenue Service that participants in the federal retirement program would need to file such a return to get the funds. ––> READ MORE

Counting on a stimulus check? Here’s what could affect how much money you get

In April, we reported roughly 9 in 10 American households would soon receive a federal stimulus check to help them stay afloat financially during the recession caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The report details certain factors that could affect how much you got and how fast you receive payment. ––> READ MORE

Sheriff: Arrests made in ‘massacre’ of 3 fishing buddies in Polk County

Two brothers and a woman were arrested in connection with the “massacre” of three best friends who set out on a fishing trip at a Central Florida lake. One of the suspects, Tony “TJ” Wiggins, 26, had previously been charged with 230 felonies and had been consistently arrested since he was 12. His brother William Robert Wiggins, 21, and girlfriend Mary Whittemore, 27, were also arrested. ––> READ MORE

‘Beast of a snake’ breaks record for largest Burmese python captured in Florida

An invasive Burmese python captured in the Everglades in October broke the state record, measuring 18.9 feet long. The previous record was 18.8 feet long. Ryan Ausburn, a contracted python hunter with the South Florida Water Management District, and Kevin “Snakeaholic” Pavlidis, a contracted python hunter with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, captured the monster-sized python Oct. 2 along the L-28 Tieback Canal about 35 miles west of Miami. ––> READ MORE

CDC shows COVID-19 has high survival rate; doctor still wants to see precautions take

A CDC update in September stated individuals are more likely to survive the coronavirus after contracting it. The health agency says if you have the virus between the ages of 0 to 70, you have a 99% survival rate. And if you’re over 70, the survival rate is nearly 95%. ––> READ MORE

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