Biden to order flags to half staff to mark 500K virus deaths

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President Biden on Monday will order flags on federal land be lowered to half-staff for the next five days to mark the United States surpassing 500,000 deaths from the coronavirus pandemic.

Biden will also deliver remarks at a candle-lighting ceremony later Monday and hold a moment of silence.

“Tonight’s events, including the president’s remarks, will highlight the magnitude of loss this milestone marks for the American people and so many families across the country,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said at a briefing. “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 vaccinated as soon as they are eligible.”

Psaki added that the remarks would not focus on the administration’s pandemic response, but instead are intended to “have a human moment and a moment to remember the people who we’ve lost over the last year.”

The United States is expected to surpass 500,000 deaths from COVID-19, roughly one year after the country confirmed its first deaths from the virus. The country has reported more than 499,000 deaths from the virus, according to a Johns Hopkins University tracker, more than any country in the world.

Biden will be joined later Monday by Vice President Harris, first lady Jill Biden and second gentleman Doug Emhoff.

Monday’s vigil will mark the second such event Biden has held since taking office to commemorate those who died from the pandemic. The day before his inauguration, Biden held a lighting ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial to honor those died from COVID-19.

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