January started off with the continuance of the Australian bushfires, in which Australia enlisted help from other countries, including the United States. The fires continued to rage on until early March.
On January 8, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announced they were stepping down from the senior royal duties, shocking people worldwide. They later moved to the United States.
People continued to see signs that 2020 would be grim after legendary NBA player Kobe Bryant and his daughter, along with seven other people died in a helicopter crash on January 26. News outlets received backlash for not waiting to get facts before they put out their articles on the tragedy and putting out the stories before the families knew.
At the end of the month on January 30, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the COVID-19 outbreak to be a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. Many people around the world did not believe that the COVID-19 outbreak would truly affect the world so greatly.