The United States topped more than 500,000 confirmed coronavirus deaths as the country continues to grapple with the issues with vaccine distribution and backlog.
John Hopkins University reported the deaths Monday as more than 28 million Americans have contracted the virus nationwide. The U.S. previously topped 400,000 deaths from the virus on the eve of President Joe Biden’s inauguration, January 19, 2021. It took the United States less than five weeks to rise from 400,000 to 500,000. The first cases of coronavirus in the United States were reported on January 21, 2020.
Biden, first lady Jill Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff led a national moment of silence at sundown from the White House. They each lit a candle to mark the half-million deaths.
Biden said it’s a “truly grim, heartbreaking milestone.” He urged Americans to resist becoming “numb to the sorrow” and “viewing each life as a statistic.” He says the people lost were “extraordinary.”
Biden also touched on the personal tragedy he’s experienced in losing his first wife and baby daughter in a car collision, and later losing an adult son to brain cancer. Biden told the nation he knows it’s hard but that “to heal, we must remember.”
The President also ordered all flags on federal property to be flown at half staff for the next five days.
More than 64.2 million Americans have received their first shot of the vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC reports that more than 75 million doses have been distributed across the country.