The top 21 Los Angeles Times stories of 2021

A gallery of photos from top stories in 2021

The top 21 most read stories of the year include pieces on Amanda Gorman, the “Rust” shooting, quite a few celebrities and, unsurprisingly, the COVID-19 pandemic.

Readers spent a total of about 27,179,133 hours or 1,630,747,973 minutes, the equivalent of more than 1,132,464 days, reading the 21 stories below.


As a doctor in a COVID unit, I’m running out of compassion for the unvaccinated. Get the shot

A doctor looks out of an emergency room in Little Company of Mary Medical Center on Thursday, Aug. 5, 2021.
(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)


Readers spent about 5,450,626 hours or 327,037,536 minutes with this story

More of our coverage of healthcare professionals:

It wasn’t just anyone who collected the bodies of the hospital’s COVID victims. It was Karl

One woman helped move the needle on Black vaccination in South L.A. She’s ‘Mama Tsega’

Our most read story of 2021 was written by Dr. Anita Sircar, an infectious disease physician and clinical instructor of health sciences at the UCLA School of Medicine. Sircar wrote a firsthand account of treating COVID-19 patients who refused to get vaccinated.

“If you believe the pandemic is almost over and I can ride it out, without getting vaccinated,” Sircar wrote, “you could not be more wrong. This virus will find you.”


‘Rust’ crew describes on-set gun safety issues and misfires days before fatal shooting

Police tape around a church on the movie set for the film "Rust."
(Roberto E. Rosales / Albuquerque Journal)

Hours before actor Alec Baldwin fatally shot a cinematographer on the New Mexico set of “Rust” with a prop gun, a half-dozen camera crew workers walked off the set to protest working conditions.

The camera operators and their assistants were frustrated by the conditions surrounding the low-budget film, including complaints about long hours, long commutes and waiting for their paychecks, three people familiar with the matter told Times reporters. Three crew members who were present at the Bonanza Creek Ranch set detailed safety protocols they were particularly concerned about.


On the front lines, here’s what the seven stages of severe COVID-19 look like

A patient with COVID-19 lays inside a negative pressure room inside a hospital's ICU.
(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

Readers spent about 2,008,706 hours or 120,522,341 minutes on this story

Find all your COVID-19 questions answered and see an archive of Coronavirus Today reader Q&As.

The Times is following the latest data published by government agencies. Track the coronavirus in California here.

While the fourth wave of the pandemic was in full swing, fueled by the highly contagious Delta variant, the trajectory of the patients from admission to critical care is all too familiar to respiratory therapist Karen Gallardo. “When they’re vaccinated,” Gallardo wrote, “their COVID-19 infections most likely end after Stage 1. If only that were the case for everyone.”

Here’s what Gallardo said to expect if you are hospitalized for a serious case of COVID-19.


Search warrant reveals grim details of ‘Rust’ shooting and Halyna Hutchins’ final minutes

A flower bouquet hangs outside the Bonanza Creek Film Ranch in Santa Fe.
(Andres Leighton / Associated Press)

Alec Baldwin was practicing removing a revolver from its holster and aiming toward the camera during rehearsal for the movie “Rust” on Oct. 21, when director Joel Souza heard “what sounded like a whip and then a loud pop,” according to a search warrant that provided details about the final minutes of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins’ life.

A sheriff’s detective’s affidavit used to obtain a search warrant details witnesses’ statements.


Fox News cancels Lou Dobbs’ show; pro-Trump host not expected to be back on air

Lou Dobbs is seen on a small, camera screen while hosting "Lou Dobbs Tonight" at Fox Business Network Studios.
(Steven Ferdman / Getty Images)

Readers spent about 1,180,452 hours or 70,827,141 minutes on this story

More of our Fox News and Lou Dobbs coverage:

Fox News tries to keep Trump fans satisfied, but at what cost?

Former Trump economic advisor Larry Kudlow will replace Lou Dobbs on Fox Business Network

In February, Fox News Media canceled “Lou Dobbs Tonight,” the program hosted by the staunch supporter of Donald Trump and of his false assertions of voter fraud in the 2020 election.

The cancellation came a day after voting software company Smartmatic filed a $2.7-billion defamation suit against Fox News and three of its hosts — Dobbs, Maria Bartiromo and Jeanine Pirro. The company claims the hosts perpetuated lies and disinformation about Smartmatic’s role in the election, damaging its business and reputation.


Dodger Stadium’s COVID-19 vaccination site temporarily shut down after protesters gather at entrance

A protester against COVID-19 vaccinations stands outside a vaccination site at Dodger Stadium.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

In January, the Los Angeles Fire Department closed the entrance to Dodger Stadium — one of the largest vaccination sites in the country — when about 50 protesters gathered there, frustrating hundreds of motorists who had been waiting in line for hours.


Feeling the chill, Demi Lovato apologizes for blasting an L.A. frozen yogurt shop

Three hands holding cups of frozen yogurt and cookie dough in front of a neon sign.
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

Readers spent about 1,126,607 hours or 67,596,425 minutes on this story

More of our coverage of Demi Lovato and Bigg Chill:

L.A’.s Bigg Chill shuts down fake news that Demi Lovato donated $100,000 after feud

After a fro-yo feud with Demi Lovato, L.A.’s Bigg Chill emerges unscathed

In April, Demi Lovato slammed L.A. fro-yo shop the Bigg Chill to their 102 million Instagram followers for what they called the promotion of sugar-free cookies and “other diet foods,” according to screenshots of Lovato’s Instagram stories. They told the company that visiting the Olympic Boulevard business “was triggering and awful.”

The Bigg Chill said it carries the products to suit customers’ varying dietary restrictions and needs. The company said it offers food items for people with diabetes and celiac disease, as well as options for vegans and “many indulgent” choices.

“For the past 36 years, our small woman-owned business has catered to anyone who’s come through the door,” the company said. “Whether they are diabetic, vegan, gluten-free, or just wanting a decadent dessert — we’ve always tried to have something for everyone.”

The blowback to Lovato’s online campaign was swift.


Big gap between Pfizer, Moderna vaccines seen for preventing COVID hospitalizations

A nurse prepares a dose of COVID-19 vaccine.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)


Readers spent about 1,076,855 hours or 64,611,307 minutes on this story

Tracking coronavirus vaccinations in California

Find the latest news on coronavirus vaccines.

Amid persistent concerns that the protection offered by COVID-19 vaccines may be waning, a report released in September by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that America’s workhorse shot is significantly less effective at preventing severe cases of disease over the long term than many experts had realized.

Data collected between March and August suggested the vaccine efficacy at reducing the short-term risk of COVID-19 hospitalization of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and Moderna vaccine after 120 days.


Dustin Diamond, ‘Saved by the Bell’ actor often embroiled in scandal, dies at 44

Dustin Diamond smiles for the camera in 2011.
(Peter Kramer / Associated Press)

Readers spent about 985,823 hours or 59,149,400 minutes on this story

More of our coverage of notable deaths this year:

Those we lost in 2021: A remembrance

Photo gallery

Dustin Diamond, the former child star who most notably played curly-haired geek Samuel “Screech” Powers on “Saved by the Bell” and then became infamous for a number of post-show scandals, died in February.

On the wholesome 1990s sitcom, Diamond embodied the ultimate yes-man sidekick who executed preppy Zack Morris’ most harebrained ideas.

Each week, the oddball character would improve or subvert Zack’s schemes with his scientific know-how, all while pining over the friend group’s wealthy fashionista, Lisa Turtle, played by Lark Voorhies. (He never did win her heart, but came close a few times.)


‘We could be implicated’: How scandal consumed ‘The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills’

"Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" stars Sutton Stracke, Garcelle Beauvais and Crystal Kung Minkoff.
(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

In an already explosive season fueled by curiosity over Erika “Jayne” Girardi’s involvement in her estranged husband’s embezzlement scandal, Sutton Stracke, the owner of the fashion boutique Sutton; Garcelle Beauvais, an actress and producer who currently co-hosts “The Real”; and Crystal Kung Minkoff, co-founder of coconut beverage company Real Coco and wife of filmmaker Rob Minkoff — the cast’s least seasoned members — have helped reenergize fans by raising issues of race, money and the aesthetics of leather pants. Not always delicately.

As viewers prepared for a showdown in the four-part reunion, Beauvais, Kung Minkoff and Stracke sat down with The Times to discuss how legal scandal swept up the season, tackling the topic of race on reality TV and stocking up on leather pants.


How a 22-year-old L.A. native became Biden’s inauguration poet

National youth poet laureate Amanda Gorman recites her inaugural poem during President Biden's inauguration.
(Patrick Semansky / Associated Press)

Readers spent about 706,592 hours or 42,395,508 minutes on this story

More of our coverage of Amanda Gorman:

Watch and read L.A. native Amanda Gorman’s inauguration day poem

Poet Amanda Gorman leaves CNN’s Anderson Cooper ‘transfixed’ by her personal mantra

Like most of us, Amanda Gorman has been cooped up at home because of the pandemic. In her case, that’s meant staying in her West Los Angeles apartment binge-watching “The Great British Baking Show.” Unlike most of us, she got some very exciting news via Zoom: She’d been handpicked to read a poem at President Biden’s inauguration.

First Lady Jill Biden is a fan of her work and convinced the inaugural committee that Gorman would be a perfect fit.

Her precocious path was paved with both opportunities and challenges, an early passion for language and the diverse influences of her native city.


Amazon’s answer to delivery driver shortage: Pot smokers

Packages are loaded onto delivery vans at Amazon's warehouse facility in Hawthorne.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

Readers spent about 695,496 hours or 41,729,749 minutes on this story

More of our coverage of business in the age of COVID-19:

Perks like never before: Employers are bending over backward to keep you from quitting

Where’s my order? Tracing one container through a broken global supply chain

Employers are dangling a variety of recruiting incentives amid the pandemic labor crunch since hiring bonuses alone no longer stand out. Target Corp. in August announced it would pay college tuition for its employees. Applebee’s offered free appetizers to applicants in its push to recruit 10,000 workers.

Amazon, which is lobbying the federal government to legalize marijuana, in June announced it would no longer screen applicants for the drug. It wasn’t long before the company began urging its delivery partners to do the same.


Scientology’s secrets spill into open in Danny Masterson rape case

Actor Danny Masterson stands with his attorney as he is arraigned on rape charges at Los Angeles Superior Court.
(Lucy Nicholson / Associated Press)

The Church of Scientology works hard to keep its inner workings out of the public eye.

It has hired private detectives to keep tabs on straying members, and experts say its lawyers vigorously defend against legal incursions, arguing to judges that Scientology’s beliefs are not courtroom fodder.

But at a hearing in May in the rape case against actor Danny Masterson, church officials were unable to stop their practices from being debated in open court.


The true story behind Netflix’s newest crime drama was too bizarre for TV

Charles Sobhraj, a.k.a The Serpent, is escorted by police to a court in New Delhi, India, in 1997.
(Saurabh Das / Associated Press)

Netflix’s true crime drama “The Serpent” may seem unbelievable — but the creators actually had to temper the bizarre real-life history of con man and serial killer Charles Sobhraj.

Set in 1970s Bangkok, Thailand, the series follows Dutch diplomat Herman Knippenberg (Billy Howle) as he investigates the disappearance of a pair of Dutch backpackers. His pursuit leads him to Sobhraj (Tahar Rahim) and his accomplices who have been drugging, robbing and killing tourists on the so-called Hippie Trail.

Writer and producer Richard Warlow calls it a “fact-is-stranger-than-fiction-to-the-power-of-about-100 situation”: “[I had] to do what you always do when you’re researching stories, which is do some conflations, light a fire under certain things and also — and I’ve never experienced this before — pedal back on some of the strangeness.”


Californians with low incomes to receive $600 checks under $9.6-billion COVID-19 economic package

Gov. Gavin Newson addresses a press conference at a COVID-19 vaccination site at Cal State Los Angeles.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Readers spent about 661,478 hours or 39,688,665 minutes on this story

More of our coverage following Californians during COVID-19:

They were barely scraping by as janitors before COVID. Now, this family struggles to survive :: Leer en español

Terrified of COVID, she works at home. He goes to the office. What’s a family to do?

In February, Gov. Gavin Newsom and legislative leaders announced that they have agreed to provide low-income Californians a $600 state stimulus payment to help them weather financial hardships during the COVID-19 pandemic, part of a $9.6-billion economic recovery package that also includes $2.1 billion in grants for small businesses.


Kenny Mayne caps “SportsCenter” run with Aaron Rodgers interview

Kenny Mayne smiles while attending an event.
(Jeff Lewis / Associated Press)

Readers spent about 653,485 hours or 39,209,123 minutes on this story

Read Mayne’s exclusive essay.

After 27 years, Kenny Mayne hosted his final “SportsCenter” on ESPN in May.

Before talking with a slate of high-profile guests, including quarterback Aaron Rodgers, Mayne wrote about his exit from the network in an exclusive essay for the Los Angeles Times.

This first-person account offered Mayne’s reaction to the support he received after he could not agree to a new contract with ESPN.


Peloton blames shocking ‘Sex and the City’ death on character’s ‘extravagant lifestyle’

Cynthia Nixon, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kristin Davis in “And Just Like That…”
(HBO Max)

Readers spent about 637,807 hours or 38,268,443 minutes on this story

More of our coverage of the show’s reboot:

How terrible is the ‘Sex and the City’ reboot? We duke it out

A ‘Sex and the City’ reboot without Samantha? ‘What’s the point?,’ some fans say

Since its debut in 1998, “Sex and the City” has been a trendsetter. Cosmos, Manolo Blahniks, Magnolia Bakery, Fendi baguettes, great big flower pins: They all became cultural sensations after getting the endorsement from Carrie Bradshaw and friends.

But the first episode of “And Just Like That …,” the limited series reboot that premiered on HBO Max and ends with the death of a beloved character after a vigorous workout, has cast an uncomfortable spotlight on the Peloton bike.


Sharon Osbourne to leave ‘The Talk’; CBS says behavior ‘did not align with our values’

Sharon Osbourne arrives at the Emmy Awards in 2019.
(Jordan Strauss / Invision )

After an explosive conversation between the co-hosts was sparked by Sharon Osbourne’s defense a day earlier of Piers Morgan, CBS acknowledged that “Network and Studio teams, as well as the showrunners,” were accountable for what happened during an intense exchange between Osbourne and fellow panelist Sheryl Underwood, noting that it was clear the co-hosts were not properly prepared for the moment.


Here’s the list of 2021 Golden Globe winners

Chloe Zhao accepts the Golden Globe for Best Director - Motion Picture award for "Nomadland" via video.
(Peter Kramer / NBC)

The Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. members who vote on the Golden Globes may have been under scrutiny, but the 2021 ceremony went full steam ahead with a field of nominees that featured many female directors, buzzy TV shows and notable shortcomings in its honors for Black storytelling.

Still, meaningful snubs and questions about the Globes’ relevance aside, the awards continued to matter to many in the industry. Here’s a list of the 78th Golden Globe Awards winners.


A mother’s search for missing son leads to dark world of a marijuana dispensary

A Los Angeles Police Department missing person flyer hangs is taped to a post.
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

Readers spent about 607,975 hours or 36,478,517 minutes on this story

More of our coverage on Juan Carlos Hernández’s case:

‘I will do everything I can to find you.’ As mother frets over missing son, LAPD investigates

Missing community college student found in shallow grave near Barstow

Juan Carlos Hernández went to work one afternoon and never came home.

Hernández’s mother knew in her gut something wasn’t right when her son didn’t return from his job at a marijuana dispensary. She did the only things she could: She called the police and she started looking. She taped her son’s face on thousands of bus stops and light posts. The search would take her to homeless encampments on skid row, to the steps of City Hall in protest, to remote corners of Southern California and to the dark underbelly of the city’s marijuana industry.


Tiger Woods ‘lucky to be alive’ after serious rollover crash leaves him with leg injuries

A crane is used to lift a vehicle following a rollover accident involving golfer Tiger Woods
(Ringo H.W. Chiu / Associated Press)

Readers spent about 605,640 hours and 36,338,384 minutes on this story

More of our coverage of the crash:

Why wasn’t Tiger Woods cited for speeding after he crashed his SUV going 87 mph?

Plaschke: Tiger Woods escaped with his life. We escaped from our grief

Golf star Tiger Woods was “lucky to be alive” after being seriously injured in a rollover crash near Rancho Palos Verdes, the Los Angeles County sheriff said after the crash in February.

Woods was the sole occupant of an SUV when he crashed, authorities said. The vehicle sustained major damage, and Woods had to be extricated from the wreckage by personnel from the Los Angeles County Fire Department, sheriff’s officials said.

Sheriff Alex Villanueva said Woods was traveling at a “relatively greater speed than normal” descending down a hill, noting that the area “has a high frequency of accidents.”

Produced by Agnus Dei Farrant