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President Biden, first lady Jill Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and first gentleman Douglas Emhoff at the White House ceremony. Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden urged Americans to "remember those we lost and remember those we left behind" in a candle-lighting ceremony Monday — noting the "grim milestone" of the U.S. surpassing 500,000 COVID-19 deaths.

Details: "As a nation, we can't accept such a cruel fate. We have to resist becoming numb to the sorrow," the president said, calling on the U.S. to fight the coronavirus together.

  • "We must end the politics and misinformation that have divided families, communities in the country," Biden said. "It has cost too many lives already."

Of note: The number of American deaths from the coronavirus is now higher than the number of U.S. soldiers who died in World War I, World War II and the Vietnam War combined, Biden noted in his speech.

  • "We often hear people described as ordinary Americans. There's no such thing," he said. "There's nothing ordinary about them. The people we lost were extraordinary. They span generations. Born in America, emigrated to America.
  • "So many of them took their final breath alone in America," he added.
  • Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and their spouses held a moment of silence to honor those who passed.

The big picture: The 500,000 mark comes less than a month after Biden held an event to observe the 400,000 coronavirus deaths toll in the U.S.

Go deeper

Feb 22, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Biden to hold moment of silence for COVID victims

President Joe Biden. Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images

President Biden will mark the expected confirmation of 500,000 Americans who have died from coronavirus with remarks Monday evening, followed by a moment of silence and a candle-lighting ceremony at sundown, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: The milestone, expected to be crossed Monday, will tally more American deaths than in World War II and the Vietnam War. The new president has worked to ramp up vaccinations and economic stimulus to accelerate recovery from the pandemic.

Feb 22, 2021 - Health

Over 500,000 dead from coronavirus in U.S.


Data: CSSE Johns Hopkins University; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

More than half a million people in the U.S. have died from the coronavirus as of Monday, according to Johns Hopkins data.

Why it matters: The death toll is larger than the total number of U.S. soldiers killed in action in World War I, World War II, and the Vietnam War combined. It comes just one year after the country's first coronavirus death was confirmed.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Omicron pushes COVID deaths toward 2,000 per day — The pandemic-proof health care giant.
  2. Vaccines: No evidence that healthy children, teens need boosters, WHO says — Starbucks drops worker vaccine or test requirement after SCOTUS ruling — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America.
  3. Politics: Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older.
  5. Variant tracker

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