Americans must not ‘grow numb’ to the anguish that comes with nearly one million lives lost to Covid-19, President Joe Biden said early Thursday morning.
Biden asked Americans to stay vigilant as the pandemic progresses through its third year. He is expected to order flags to be flown at half-staff in honor of those who lost their lives due to virus before co-hosting a global Covid-19 summit this afternoon.
‘One million empty chairs around the dinner table. Each an irreplaceable loss. Each leaving behind a family, a community, and a nation forever changed because of this pandemic,’ Biden said in a statement.
The president added that he and first lady Jill Biden were praying for those grieving, noting: ‘I know the pain of that black hole in your heart. It is unrelenting. But I also know the ones you love are never truly gone. They will always be with you.’
He stressed that the nation ‘must not grow numb to such sorrow.’
‘We must remain vigilant against this pandemic and do everything we can to save as many lives as possible, as we have with more testing, vaccines, and treatments than ever before.’
In his remarks, Biden noted that it is crucial for Congress to pass funding to maintain these resources in the coming months. The president’s comments on the pandemic’s toll come ahead of the virtual Global Covid-19 Summit, an event leaders hope will reignite mitigation efforts.
During the summit, co-hosted by the White House, Germany, Indonesia, Senegal and Belize, the US will announce its pledge of $450million in the new Global Pandemic Preparedness and Health Security fund at the World Bank.
Initially, the US had pledged $250million. The summit will also shine a light on an additional $3.1billion coming from other countries to combat the virus.
At the summit Biden is expected to press Congress to pass additional Covid-19 funding. As it stands now, a request from the White House to Congress of $22.5billion in coronavirus aid has stalled on Capitol Hill. A compromise proposal for $10billion is also at a standstill.
This will be the second global Covid-19 summit the White House has hosted, following the first in September.
Biden’s commemoration of one million lives lost from Covid-19 also comes ahead of official trackers hitting that grim milestone.
As of Wednesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had reported over 995,000 coronavirus deaths in the US. Similar data collected by Johns Hopkins University had that number at over 998,000 on Wednesday. Tallying by NBC News, called the one million deaths a week ago.
Deaths from the virus have slowed down in recent weeks, with the 7-day average around 300 deaths per day, down from over 3,000 a day in February, according to the CDC.
Federal health officials continue to push the Covid-19 vaccines, as studies have shown they have significantly reduced the number of deaths, and could save even more lives if more Americans received the shots.
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