US Flags Are at Half-Staff to Mark a 'Tragic Milestone'

US is close to recording a million COVID deaths
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 12, 2022 1:07 PM CDT
US Flags Are at Half-Staff to Mark 1M COVID Deaths
"Today, we mark a tragic milestone: one million American lives lost to COVID-19," President Biden said. "One million empty chairs around the dinner table. Each an irreplaceable loss. "   (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)

(Newser) – With the US on the cusp of recording a million COVID-19 deaths, President Biden has ordered flags to be flown at half-staff at government buildings from Thursday until sunset Monday. Each death is an "irreplaceable loss," the president said in a statement. "As a Nation, we must not grow numb to such sorrow. To heal, we must remember. We must remain vigilant against this pandemic and do everything we can to save as many lives as possible." Different trackers give different death totals, but all are close to a million, the Hill reports. America's official coronavirus death toll is the highest in the world, though the World Health Organization believes other countries may have suffered even more staggering losses, per the BBC.

The Johns Hopkins University tracker put the total number of US lives lost to the coronavirus at 998,997 Thursday, while the CDC's figure is 995,747 and NBC's total is 1,003,316. Biden discussed what he called the "tragic milestone" in remarks Thursday to world leaders at the Second Global COVID-19 Summit, a virtual summit co-hosted by the White House, the Guardian reports. He announced global initiatives including the sharing of American COVID-19 technologies and urged Congress to grant his request for emergency funding, including $5 billion "to keep up our global partnership in the fight against COVID-19."

When the US reached 500,000 COVID deaths in February last year, Biden honored pandemic victims with a moment of silence and a candle-lighting ceremony. COVID is now the third-leading cause of death in the US, behind heart attack and cancer, the New York Times reports. Almost 200,000 children have lost one or both parents to the virus. "Around the world many more millions have died," Biden said in his message to the conference. "Millions of children have been orphaned, with thousands still dying every day. Now is the time for us to act. All of us together." (Read more coronavirus stories.)

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