The daily beast
‘Resist going numb’: Biden pays tribute to 500,000 dead – and those they left behind
Saul Loeb / AFP via Getty For the second time in 33 days, President Joe Biden brought the nation together on Monday to mourn a loss it can no longer imagine, to mourn collectively after a year of grief beyond imagination , as the country’s death toll from the coronavirus The pandemic has officially passed through half a million people. “We often hear people described as ‘ordinary Americans’, but there is no such thing,” said Biden, standing in the Cross Hall of the White House. “The people we lost were amazing.” The year of the pandemic saw more deaths, as the president noted in a proclamation ordering that all American flags be half-masted until sunset on Friday, than the number of Americans who perished ” during World War I. World War I, World War II and the Vietnam War combined. ”“ More lives lost to this virus than any other nation on earth, ”Biden said. “These are people we know. These are people we feel like we know… The son who calls his mom every night, just to check in. The daddy’s daughter who lit up his world. The best.” friend who was still there. The nurse – the nurses – the nurse who made her patients want to live. “Imagine one of those wiped out towns – that’s how many COVID Americans KilledBiden, whose lives and public service were defined by moments of deep grief, urged t Americans learn from their losses, to “resist becoming numb to the pain” of an empty seat at the dinner table. “I know too well,” Biden said, appearing to be fighting back tears as he spoke. “I know what it’s like not to be there when it happens. I know what it’s like when you’re there, holding their hands, as you look into their eyes as they escape. Biden concluded his remarks by asking Americans to “find a purpose” to their sorrows, a purpose worthy of the lives lost in “This Nation Will Know Joy Again,” Biden said, before walking to the lighted South Portico at the candles, where the US Marine Corps group performed “Amazing Grace”. The National Cathedral, 15 minutes away, had just finished sounding its 12-ton Bourdon Bell 500 times, once for a thousand lives lost in the United States. “We will be fine, I promise you.” With the First Lady, Vice President and Second Gentleman by his side, each wearing a black mask, Biden then led the country in a moment of silence to reflect on the darkest moment of “dark winter” that he had warned would come. There have been 100,000 more deaths since he told the nation for the last time in January, on the eve of his inauguration, that “in order to heal, you must remember”, and 200,000 more than when he was inaugurated. ‘he told Americans in December that his heart was with those who were about to enter. the new year “with a black hole in your hearts – without your loved ones by your side”. The ceremony was, of course, largely symbolic. The country’s death toll from the coronavirus pandemic has almost certainly passed the 500,000-week mark – excess deaths remain around 20% higher than the official death toll – and the total number of lives lost to the virus will likely continue to increase long even after the pandemic has finally receded, given the upward revision of death toll estimates for past pandemics. What the moment has marked, however, is the consolidation of the pandemic – and the government’s response to it – as Biden’s responsibility. Yes, it was left with a national response that was in worse shape than it could have imagined, with millions of vaccine doses missing and an anti-inoculation movement raging on social media. His predecessor had lost interest in the fight against the pandemic months before his term in office, drawing attention to an unsuccessful coup attempt that his own task force claimed would claim Americans’ lives. but no president, alone in his thoughts for a moment of silence remembering 500,000 deceased citizens, can plausibly return to repeat the White House line of previous days that he “has only been here three and a half weeks. Or “only been here three weeks” or “only been here two and a half weeks,” as White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters last week. Biden Team Fears: No COVID herd immunity until Thanksgiving It took weeks for the Biden COVID-19 task force to gain a foothold. For the first few days, the administration struggled to explain exactly how it would advance vaccinations and why states across the country were dropping appointments en masse. Officials offered a variety of responses, including that the administration was still trying to locate millions of doses and that the Trump administration had left them with a broken distribution manual. Meanwhile, thousands of people have died, many of whom were infected before Biden took office. Still, talking points at most COVID-19 press conferences over the past few weeks have focused on the fact that the number of cases and deaths across the country is steadily declining. The country’s vaccination is improving and as the administration has signed new agreements with pharmaceutical companies to ensure the flow of doses throughout the coming months, health officials are still concerned about the emergence of new variants. Officials say if the data suggests that the vaccines available to Americans work well against mutations in the UK and South Africa, other, potentially more deadly, variants could cause a new outbreak this spring – and further delay any semblance of normalcy in American life. kids attending school in a real school, adults chatting one-on-one with coworkers, families eating out and celebrating weddings and funeral gatherings, and a White House where visitors aren’t. not tested for virus as thoroughly as they are for guns – never seemed this far. Dr Anthony Fauci, the only remnant of the COVID-19 firmament besieged by the Trump administration, seems perpetually on the verge of telling Americans that we will never have a true “normal.” “It really depends on what you mean by ‘normality,'” Fauci said in an interview last weekend. “If ‘normality’ means exactly the way things were before it happened to us, I can’t predict it. ” Biden, too, has been careful not to over-promise vaccination deadlines or reopening schools for fear of under-delivering or being upset by a number of the many factors beyond his control. It remains to be seen whether the vaccinations stop the spread of the virus or if children can be vaccinated effectively, meaning that ‘normal’ for families will be delayed even longer. A third of people say they do not get the vaccine, for both understandable and silly reasons Other disasters that occur once in a century, such as the deep freeze in Texas that delayed the delivery of tens of thousands of vaccines, could still escape “normalcy.” The reality of this possibility arises as the process continues grieving progress in the country from shock and denial and depression to, increasingly, anger. Violence against Asian Americans is increasing across the country. Ctors are increasingly desperate that Congress will not be able to send additional COVID relief to Biden’s office before mid-March, even though he has chosen the fast lane rather than sacrificing, as he said. ‘said a Biden insider,’ two or three months of negotiation ‘would have led to’ only two or three Republican votes’. Biden’s goal, Psaki told reporters ahead of Monday’s ceremony, is to push through the US bailout and ensure the country has enough vaccines to inoculate 300 million Americans with the virus. But the American people also have a role to play here, ”Psaki said. “Wearing masks, social distancing. Everyone wants to get back to normal, but the President, the federal government cannot do this alone. Everyone will have to participate in this process to get closer to normal. For more, check out The Daily Beast. Get our best stories delivered to your inbox every day. Register now! Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside digs deeper into the stories that matter to you. Learn more.