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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

23 hours ago - Health

Biden to GOP governors who resist COVID rules: "Get out of the way"

President Biden speaks at the White House on Tuesday. Photo: Shawn Thew/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden spoke out Tuesday against Republican governors who've sought to block vaccine and mask mandates, as COVID-19 cases spike across the U.S.

Why it matters: Biden has tried to avoid making the pandemic a partisan issue, but the Washington Post notes the White House "has grown increasingly frustrated" with Republican leaders looking to obstruct health measures.

21 hours ago - Health

America's pandemic pessimism returns

Data: Harris Poll; Chart: Axios Visuals

A majority of Americans now, once again, say the worst of the pandemic is yet to come, per new Harris polling provided exclusively to Axios.

Why it matters: We took a brief hiatus from worrying about the pandemic, but the Delta variant and the response to it appear to have sent us back to a dark place.

Greece's artistic swimming team to miss Olympics after COVID outbreak

Greece's Maria Alzigkouzi Kominea and Evangelia Papazogloun the Artistic Swimming Duet Free Routine Preliminary of the Olympic Games at Tokyo Aquatics Centre on Aug. 2, 2021 in Japan. Photo" Clive Rose/Getty Images

Greece's entire 12-woman artistic swimming team is out of the Tokyo Olympic Games due to an outbreak of COVID-19 among the group.

Driving the news: Tokyo Games organizers confirmed Wednesday that five members of the Greek team had tested positive for the virus and that their teammates were considered close contacts.