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Biden responds to million death milestone as he attends 2nd COVID-19 World Summit

He ordered the flags to be flown at half mast until May 16.

On Thursday, President Joe Biden addressed the United States to reach the milestone of one million coronavirus deaths.

“A million empty chairs around the family dinner table,” Biden said in a pre-recorded video message. “Each of the irreplaceable, irreplaceable losses. Each leaving behind a family or a community has been forever changed because of this pandemic. Our hearts go out to all who are struggling.”

Biden is ordering flags to be flown at half-mast at the White House and on all federal public buildings and grounds until sunset May 16 in remembrance of those who have lost their lives to the virus.

His remarks kicked off a second virtual summit focused on the global response to the ongoing health crisis and the prevention of future pandemics. The United States is co-hosting the event alongside Belize, Germany, Indonesia and Senegal.

Biden also noted that the United States was not alone in its grief.

“Around the world, millions of people have died,” he said in the video message. “Millions of children have been orphaned, and thousands are still dying every day. Now is the time for us to act. All together. We must all do more, honor those we have lost by doing all we can to prevent as many deaths as possible.”

Biden on Thursday reiterated his call for Congress to pass more COVID-19 aid.

In March, Biden asked for an additional $22.5 billion to fight the virus, warning the country’s testing, vaccine and treatment supplies were running low.

Capitol Hill lawmakers are trying to move forward with a lightened $10 billion coronavirus assistance package. Senate Republicans previously blocked him on the administration’s plan to lift Title 42, a pandemic-era rule restricting migration at the U.S. border.

Democrats tried to tie the COVID-19 package to additional aid to Ukraine to ensure its passage, but the two measures were decoupled earlier this week.

Biden said Thursday that emergency coronavirus funding is “vital to protecting Americans.”

The pre-recorded message marking 1 million deaths was more low-key than Biden’s speech about 500,000 virus deaths in February 2021, when he and Vice President Kamala Harris stood outside the South Portico of the White House and held a moment of silence and a candle-lighting ceremony.

ABC News

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