While other official counts have put the figure just below that mark, the administration marked the moment at the second Covid summit, reflecting on the devastation the pandemic has had on the nation after more than two years.
“As a nation, we must not be numb to such grief. To heal, we must remember. We must remain vigilant against this pandemic and do all we can to save as many lives as possible, as we do. ‘we’ve done with more tests, vaccines, and treatments than ever before,’ Biden wrote. “It is essential that Congress maintain these resources in the months ahead.”
Biden ordered flags flown at half mast to mark the occasion.
The event, which is also co-hosted by Germany, Indonesia, Senegal and Belize, will call on countries to invest in the World Bank’s new Global Pandemic Preparedness and Health Security Fund, and the United States will announce that its pledge will be increased to $450 million, up from the originally pledged amount of $250 million. The summit will also highlight an additional $3.1 billion in new funding commitments from countries around the world to fight Covid-19.
But as Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and other Cabinet-level officials attend Thursday’s summit, which will urge other wealthy countries to step up their coronavirus relief efforts to support poorer countries, The Biden administration’s efforts to secure additional funding from Congress to support coronavirus relief efforts will be front and center.
On Thursday, administration officials will issue a “strong call” for Congress to act and take “urgent action, not empty words,” a senior official said.
“If the United States is to remain a leader — protecting Americans and the world from dangerous disease threats — we need Congress to act now to provide more funding for the Covid response,” the second official added.
In addition to the summit’s two overarching goals, there are three key priorities that will guide Thursday’s meeting: preventing complacency over Covid-19, preventing deaths from the pandemic, and preventing future variants and pandemics – with one official noting that it’s “not a matter of if, but when.”
This will be the second Covid-19 world summit organized by the White House, after that of September.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield, Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra, USAID Administrator Samantha Power, Deputy Adviser to National Security Daleep Singh and White House Covid Response Coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha will also take part in Thursday’s summit.