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Rep. Ilhan Omar (center) tears up as members of Congress hold a moment of silence for the American lives lost to COVID-19 on the steps of the U.S. Capitol on Monday. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

A bipartisan group of lawmakers gathered on the steps of the U.S. Capitol building to honor American lives lost to COVID-19, as the country's pandemic death toll on Monday neared 600,000.

Of note: The milestone comes as the number of deaths from the coronavirus continue to drop, along with cases and hospitalizations — something Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) noted on the Senate floor before gathering with other lawmakers, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), to hold a moment of silence.

Members of Congress gather for the tribute to American coronavirus victims. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

What he's saying: "It is particularly jarring at this moment — a moment of recovery, optimism and hope — to remember the enormity of lives lost over the past 15 months," Schumer said, per ABC News.

  • "Not only that, we face the grim reality that these recent fatalities happened while Americans were on the verge of getting the vaccine. Some had their appointment just days away."

By the numbers: The death toll from COVID-19 in the U.S. surpassed 500,000 on Feb. 22.

  • 599,928 people have died from the virus in the U.S. as of Monday night, according to Johns Hopkins data.

Go deeper

Sep 22, 2021 - Health

Brazil's health minister tests positive for COVID during UN summit in N.Y.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro (L) and Health Minister Marcelo Queiroga in Brasilia, Brazil, in May. Photo: Andressa Anholete/Getty Images

Brazilian Health Minister Marcelo Queiroga has tested positive for COVID-19 while in New York City for the UN General Assembly (UNGA), he confirmed Tuesday night.

Why it matters: Hours earlier, Queirog had accompanied Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro to the UNGA. The Biden administration expressed concern last week that the gathering of world leaders could become a coronavirus "superspreader event."

Asymptomatic Florida students exposed to COVID no longer have to quarantine

Gov. Ron DeSantis during a September news conference in Viera, Florida. Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Wednesday an emergency order allowing parents to decide whether their children should quarantine or stay in school if they're exposed to COVID-19, provided they're asymptomatic.

Why it matters: People infected with COVID-19 can spread the coronavirus starting from two days before they display symptoms, according to the CDC. Quarantine helps prevent the virus' spread.

Sep 22, 2021 - Health

FDA approves Pfizer boosters for high-risk individuals, people 65 and up

Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday approved Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus booster shots for people at high risk of severe COVID-19 and people 65 years and older.

Driving the news: The approval comes just days after an FDA advisory panel recommended boosters for the two groups but overwhelmingly voted against the third shots for younger Americans.