President Joe Biden remembered the 500,000 American lives now lost to COVID-19 in a ceremony on Monday night outside the White House, drawing on his own experience of grief to personalize the unfathomable tragedy while urging Americans to wear masks and take other measures to prevent the spread of the virus.
He pointed out that the death toll from the pandemic is higher than the number of US servicemen killed in action in WWI, WWII and the Vietnam War combined.
“The people we lost were amazing. They have spanned generations,” Biden said. “Born in America, emigrated to America. Just like that, many of them took their last breaths on their own in America. As a nation, we cannot accept such a cruel fate. As we have been fighting this pandemic for so for a long time, we must resist becoming numb with pain. ”
The United States, with about 4% of the world’s population, has recorded 25% of COVID-19 cases and 20% of deaths. Experts warn that around 90,000 more deaths are likely in the coming months, despite the country’s mass vaccination campaign.
Already, the epidemic has reduced life expectancy and left 4.5 million parents in mourning in the United States. For every American who die from COVID-19, on average nine family members are grieving.
“It hit, like, the core of our family,” said one of those sons.
But even as the nation reaches what Dr Anthony Fauci has called a “terrifyingly historic milestone,” there are signs of better days ahead. Not only have infections, hospitalizations and deaths declined since a post-holiday peak in January, but two highly effective vaccines are found in millions of U.S. guns, and another may be cleared soon.
It’s a race against time, however, as the coronavirus variants spread across the country and threaten to spark a new wave of cases.
The White House team also said over the weekend that despite the sharp drop in cases this month, infection levels remain above last summer’s peak and life will not return to normal for a while.
As the vaccination effort continues, public health officials are preaching vigilance and continued adherence to well-known mitigation measures – masking, social distancing, handwashing and avoiding large gatherings – in the hope of ‘Avoid another COVID-19 landmark.
Also in the news:
►The House this week is focusing on President Joe Biden’s $ 1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package. Democrats in Congress aim to pass the entire proposal by mid-March, and it currently includes a new round of checks for Americans, a renewed paycheck protection program, and an extension of a Federal boost for unemployment benefits.
►States will have to administer annual standardized achievement exams to students in 2021, but they can change or delay the tests, the U.S. Department of Education said on Monday.
►Amid the nationwide debate over whether to reopen schools during the pandemic, a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests teachers may be more likely to transmit the virus than students.
►California Gov. Gavin Newsom plans to sign a state-sized coronavirus relief program on Tuesday that will include $ 600 in one-time payments for 5.7 million low-to-moderate income people. The bill was approved by state lawmakers on Monday.
📈 Today’s numbers: The United States has more than 28.18 million confirmed cases of coronavirus and 500,200 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Global totals: over 111.7 million cases and 2.47 million deaths. More than 75.2 million doses of the vaccine have been distributed in the United States and about 64.1 million have been administered, according to the CDC.
📘 What we read: Language and cultural barriers made it difficult for many people of color, immigrants, and non-English speaking communities.to get a COVID-19 vaccine. Here’s how we break them down.
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Johnson & Johnson plans to deliver 20 million doses of vaccine by end of March
Drugmaker Johnson & Johnson says it will be able to deliver 20 million U.S. doses of its single-shot COVID-19 vaccine by the end of March, assuming it gets the green light from federal regulators.
J&J revealed the figure in written testimony ahead of a Congressional hearing Tuesday on the country’s vaccine supply. White House officials warned last week that initial supplies of the J&J vaccine would be limited.
The company has reaffirmed that it will have the capacity to deliver 100 million doses of the vaccine to the United States by the end of June. This supply will help government officials meet the goal of having enough injections to immunize most adult Americans later this year. Globally, the company aims to produce 1 billion doses this year.
U.S. health regulators are still reviewing the safety and effectiveness of the shot, and a decision to allow its emergency use is expected later this week. J & J’s vaccine would be the first in the United States to require only one vaccine.
Why get the COVID vaccine if you always have to wear a mask? Immediate benefits, say experts
Get a COVID-19 vaccine and you will be advised to continue to wear a mask and stay away from other people. So, what is it for?
There is an immediate benefit to the person who receives a vaccine, said Andy Slavitt, senior White House adviser on the response to COVID-19. “People are interested in taking the vaccine,” he told a press conference on Monday, because “they don’t want to be sick and they don’t want to die”.
Getting two injections of the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine reduces an individual’s risk of developing symptomatic COVID-19 by about 95%, according to large research trials.
But life won’t return to something normal for society at large until national infection rates drop further, according to Dr Rochelle Walensky, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
– Karen Weintraub
Contribute: The Associated Press