The deadly COVID-19 virus continues to take the lives of millions of people across the world. Since it was first detected in 2019, many people have become infected with the virus. Thousands of businesses closed down, and everyone's lives changed, albeit for the worse.

Now that 2021 is nearing its end, here's a look back at the COVID-19 pandemic and the highlights that happened during the past 12 months.

COVID-19 deaths in 2021 surpassed figures from 2020

During the beginning of the year, American health officials saw a ray of light when the number of active cases in the country went down consistently.

But during the last two months of 2021, there was a sudden spike in cases in the United States. It was confirmed that the number of recorded deaths due to COVID-19 surpassed the number of casualties in 2020, according to WebMD.

California has the greatest number of COVID-19 cases this month

As of Dec. 16, California has the greatest number of active COVID-19 cases at over 5.1 million. Texas follows the state with over 4 million active cases and Florida with over 3 million active cases.

Ranked fourth on the list is New York with over 2.8 million cases, Illinois with over 1.9 million cases, Pennsylvania with over 1.8 million cases, Ohio with over 1.8 million cases, and more, according to Statista.

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Which state is on lockdown due to COVID-19?

As of press writing, none of the States are on lockdown. But some introduced new restrictions following a spike in omicron cases in the country.

For instance, Virginia announced slightly tighter restrictions, including mask mandates in school for students. Masks should also be worn in public places regardless of vaccine status.

Gov. Dan McKee also announced a mask mandate in Rhode Island on Dec. 20. Masks are now required indoors in large venues and smaller businesses with a capacity of 250 people or less.

However, most states have already lifted their restrictions this month, according to USA Today.

Ryan McMahon shares his hopes for 2022

Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon also reflected on the last 22 months since the coronavirus pandemic hit the United States. He acknowledged that the virus changed the way people live.

"In 2021 we were dealing with the second wave, then we had new hope with the vaccine, then we saw a period of time where the virus was at zero. So 2020 was about the unknown 2021 was more about responding with what we do know works and what we do know can really be effective," he said via CNY Central.

McMahon also said that he hopes the pandemic will become endemic in 2022. He also hopes that hospitalization rates will lower and deaths caused by COVID-19 will go away.

He added that he hopes for the COVID-19 vaccine to be rebranded like a flu shot so that more people would want to be inoculated. 

However, it's unclear if McMahon's hopes for 2022 are achievable. After all, there's always a possibility for new variants to be detected in the country and across the globe, just like what happened with Omicron. 

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