WASHINGTON (WCBS 880) — President Joe Biden honored the hundreds of thousands of Americans lost to COVID-19 during a somber sundown ceremony at the White House on Monday.
Biden delivered remarks from the Cross Hall after the COVID-19 death toll in the country surpassed 500,000 Monday.
“Today we mark a truly grim, heartbreaking milestone,” the president said. “Five hundred thousand seventy-one dead. That’s more Americans who have died in one year, in this pandemic, than in World War I, World War II and the Vietnam War combined.”
He took a moment to remind Americans than everyone who has died from the virus had a family and were "extraordinary."
“While we’re fighting this pandemic for so long, we have to resist becoming numb to the sorrow. We have to resist viewing each life as a statistic, or blur, or 'on the news,'" Biden added.
The president then walked with First Lady Jill Biden out onto the South Portico and held a national moment of silence, as well as a candle lighting ceremony in tribute to the victims.
Vice President Kamala Harris and the Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff were also in attendance.
Earlier Monday, the bells of Washington's National Cathedral tolled 500 times at 5 p.m. to mark the grim milestone.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki also announced Biden will order flags to be flown at half-staff on all federal properties for five days.
It was just about a month ago that Biden, his wife, Harris and the second gentleman held a solemn ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial on the eve of the inauguration to mark the 400,000 people who had passed from coronavirus.