An emotional president, Joe Biden, called the milestone of more than 500,000 US deaths from Covid-19 “heartbreaking” on Monday and called on the country to unite against the pandemic.
“I know how it is,” Biden said in a national television address, referring to his own long history of family tragedies.
“I ask all Americans to remember, remember those we lost and those they left behind,” Biden said. “I also ask us to act, to be vigilant, to say socially distant, to mask, to be vaccinated.”
Biden, along with his wife Jill and Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff, then stood outside the White House to mark a silence in front of 500 candles representing the huge toll.
A Marine Corps band played “Amazing Grace”.
In the past, flags were lowered over the White House and at federal buildings across the country and at embassies around the world. The United States has the highest number of deaths in the world.
Biden urged Americans to mourn and remember the lost but also to show determination.
“As a nation, we can not and must not let that continue,” he said.
“We need to end the policies and misinformation that are divided into families, communities,” he said. “We must fight this together as a people, as the United States.”