President Joe Biden led the United States in observing a moment of silence on Monday to commemorate the grim milestone of 500,000 US deaths from Covid-19, urging Americans to set aside partisan differences and fight the pandemic together.
“Today we mark a truly grim, heartbreaking milestone - 500,071 dead. That’s more Americans who have died in one year in this pandemic than in World War One, World War Two and the Vietnam War combined,” he said.
Mr Biden, Vice-President Kamala Harris, first lady Jill Biden and second gentleman Doug Emhoff marked a moment of silence at 6.15pm at the White House after the president’s remarks.
“As a nation, we can’t accept such a cruel fate. While we’ve been fighting this pandemic for so long, we have to resist becoming numb to sorrow,” Mr Biden said in an emotional address at the White House.
Mr Biden also ordered that all flags on federal properties and military facilities be lowered to half-staff for the next five days, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.
The president called on Americans to remain vigilant in fighting the pandemic by continuing to wear marks, observe social distancing and receive vaccinations when it was their turn.
“We must end the politics of misinformation that have divided families, communities and the country. It’s cost too many lives already,” he said. “We have to fight this together as one people, as the United States of America.”
More people have died in the United States due to Covid-19 than any other country in the world. With 4% of the world's population, the United States has 20% of all Covid deaths and one of the highest rates of deaths per 100,000 residents, exceeded by only a few countries such as Belgium, the United Kingdom and Italy.
Following many mask-less yearend holiday gatherings, January became the deadliest month of the pandemic so far with an average of 3,000 people dying every day. With total deaths above 500,000, one in every 673 US residents has succumbed to the pandemic. Global deaths have reached 2.57 million or one out of every 3,000 people on the planet.
The United States has reported over 28 million cases to date, about 25 per cent of all global infections. After peaking at nearly 300,000 new cases in a single day on Jan 8, the United States is now reporting about 70,000 new infections each day.