President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and their spouses will commemorate the grim milestone of 500,000 U.S. deaths from COVID-19 with a moment of silence on Monday evening and ask all Americans to take part, the White House said.
“They will ask all Americans to join in a moment of silence during a candle lighting ceremony at sundown,” White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters.
Biden will order all flags on federal properties to be lowered to half-staff for the next five days, Psaki said.
“Tonight’s events, including the president’s remarks, will highlight the magnitude of loss that this milestone marks for the American people,” she said. “He will also speak to the power of the American people to turn the tide on this pandemic by working together, following … public health guidelines, and getting in line to be vaccinated as soon as they are eligible.”
Biden is scheduled to speak on the issue at 6:00 pm ET from the White House. He, first lady Jill Biden, Harris and second gentleman Doug Emhoff are scheduled to hold a moment of silence at 6:15 pm.
About 19% of total global coronavirus deaths have occurred in the United States, an outsized figure given that the nation accounts for just 4% of the world’s population.
The country has the highest overall death figures, reflecting the lack of a unified, national response last year.
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