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2021 Year in Review: Top National stories through the eye of CBS News

CBS's Michael George looks back at the year that was.

NEW YORK, NY (CBS News) - More people in the U.S. died from COVID-19 in 2021 than 2020, driven in part by the highly contagious Delta variant.

Vaccines became widely available, but hesitancy remained. By mid-December, about 20% of eligible Americans still hadn't gotten a first shot.

"I do want to give my condolences to the Floyd family."

Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was sentenced in June, months after a jury convicted him of the 2020 murder of George Floyd.

During the trial, there was another police-involved killing of a black man in nearby Brooklyn Center, Minnesota. Officer Kim Potter shot Daunte Wright during a traffic stop instead of deploying her taser.

A Wisconsin jury found Kyle Rittenhouse not guilty for fatally shooting two men and wounding a third during a night of violent protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

"I didn't do anything wrong, i defended myself," said Rittenhouse.

Two weeks later, a jury in Georgia convicted three white men of murdering Ahmaud Arbery as he jogged through their neighborhood in 2020.

In June, a condo building in Surfside, Florida partially collapsed, killing 98 people. And in November, ten people died during a crowd stampede at Houston's Astroworld Music Festival.

Later that month, a driver plowed his SUV through a Christmas parade in Waukesha, Wisconsin killing six people.

The nation once again reeled fro mass shootings, including the deadly Atlanta-area spa shootings that shed new light on hate crimes targeting Asian Americans. A school shooting in Oxford, Michigan left four students dead. The alleged gunman, and his parents, face charges.

From a crippling Arctic blast in Texas, to massive wildfires out west, to deadly tornadoes in the Heartland, the U.S. faced more extreme weather. Hurricane Ida hit Louisiana as the most powerful storm since Katrina. Then its remnants brought flooding and destruction to the Northeast.

The disappearance of 22-year-old Gabby Petito, and manhunt for her fiance Brian Laundrie, gripped the nation. Autopsies revealed she was strangled. He died by suicide.

Bill Cosby returned home from prison after Pennsylvania's Supreme Court threw out his 2018 sexual assault conviction. And, a federal jury convicted R&B superstar R. Kelly of sex trafficking and racketeering after facing accusations for decades.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo resigned in August following a sexual harassment investigation.

Tennis star Naomi Osaka and gymnast Simone Biles raised awareness about mental health issues in the sports world.

And 2021 was out of this world for billionaires Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson as they raced into space. Along for the ride - Star Trek icon William Shatner, who boldly went where no 90-year-old has gone before.

CBS News

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