President Joe Biden led a moment of silence Monday evening and mourned the more than 500,000 Americans who have died from the coronavirus pandemic.
At a White House candle-lighting ceremony at sundown, Biden, first lady Jill Biden, and Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff, stood in silence as a Marine band played “Amazing Grace.” Biden ordered flags at federal buildings to be flown at half-mast for five days.
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“We have to resist becoming numb to the sorrow. We have to resist viewing each life as a statistic or a blur.”
— President Joe Biden
The U.S. officially surpassed the 500,000 mark earlier in the day. According to data from Johns Hopkins University, 500,172 Americans have died from COVID-19 in a little over a year. The U.S. has the most coronavirus deaths in the world, by far, as well as the most cases of the virus, more than 28.1 million.
Commemorating the “truly grim, heartbreaking milestone,” Biden called for unity and urged all Americans to do their share to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.
“Today I ask all Americans to remember. Remember those we lost, those we left behind,” he said. “But as we all remember, I also ask us to act, to remain vigilant, to stay socially distant, to mask up. Get vaccinated when it’s your turn. We must end the politics and misinformation that has divided families, communities and the country and has cost too many lives already. It’s not Democrats and Republicans who are dying from the virus, it’s our fellow Americans.
“We have to fight this together, as one people, as the United States of America. that is the only way we are going to beat this virus,” Biden added. “Let this not be a story of how far we fell, but of how far we climbed up.”