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Biden calls for national unity and healing as coronavirus death toll surpasses 500,000

At 5 p.m., the White House lowered its flag to honor those who have died, after Biden ordered all US flags on federal property to be flown half-staffed for five days. At the same time, the Washington National Cathedral began ringing the bell 500 times.

Monday’s event, which comes just over a year after the first confirmed death from Covid-19 in the United States, showed how quickly the virus has spread across the country and how badly it has been. deadly. It wasn’t until last month, on the eve of his inauguration, that Biden held a similar vigil at the Lincoln Memorial to commemorate 400,000 lives lost. Biden also noted in his remarks that the number of deaths from coronaviruses exceeded those who died in the two world wars, as well as the Vietnam War, combined.

The nation now finds itself at another inflection point in the face of the pandemic. As new cases and deaths in the United States have fallen significantly from January highs, new variants have raised significant concerns, along with bleak weather in the South that disrupted vaccine distribution. These factors played into the cautiously optimistic remarks Biden made on Friday when visiting a Pfizer manufacturing site in Kalamazoo, Mich.

“I believe we will be approaching normalcy by the end of this year,” he said. “And God willing, this Christmas will be different from the last.”

“But I can’t make that commitment to you,” he continued. “There are other strains of the virus. We don’t know what might happen in terms of production rate. Things can change. But we are doing everything science says we should do, and people are rallying to do whatever needs to be done.

Dr Anthony Fauci, Biden’s senior health adviser and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, noted on Sunday how quickly the coronavirus had ravaged the United States to hit half a million, calling it ” terrible ”and“ really awful. “

“This is nothing like what we’ve been through for the past 102 years since the 1918 influenza pandemic,” he told CNN’s Dana Bash. “People decades from now are going to refer to this as a terribly historic milestone in the history of this country.

The actual number of deaths linked to Covid-19, public health officials said, is probably much higher.

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