The U.S. will officially surpass 500,000 COVID-19 deaths Monday — the number stood at 498,879 on Sunday night, according to Johns Hopkins University. And President Biden will mark the solemn milestone with a moment of silence and a candle-lighting ceremony at the White House at sundown, joined by Vice President Kamala Harris, first lady Jill Biden, and second gentleman Doug Emhoff. Biden will also deliver some remarks, the White House said.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert and Biden’s chief medical adviser, said Sunday that crossing half a million deaths is “terrible” and “really horrible.” “It’s nothing like we’ve ever been through in the last 102 years since the 1918 influenza pandemic,” he told CNN’s Dana Bash. “People decades from now are going to be talking about this as a terribly historic milestone in the history of this country.”
Fauci confirmed that the U.S. will have 600 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines by July, enough “to be able to vaccinate virtually anybody and everybody,” he told Fox News Sunday. The number of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths are falling steadily but still high, he added, and it’s important to maintain public health measures.
“As the nation reaches the milestone of a half-million deaths about a year after the first American succumbed to the coronavirus,” The Washington Post contextualizes, “the necropolis of COVID has grown into a city of sorrow the size of Atlanta or Sacramento — a death toll larger than the combined American losses in combat from the Civil War, World War I, and World War II, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.”
“You see on the news, ‘X amount of people died,’ but it’s so much more than that,” said Priscilla Morse, whose 6-year-old daughter, Gigi, died of COVID-19 in August. “Do people see just how destroyed your family and your life is, six months later? Half-a-million families who’ve had their world torn apart?” Gigis one of at least 271 children who have died from the coronavirus, the Post reports, and “each death represents a shattered family and a trauma deepened, parents say, by the rampant belief that kids can’t get covid, or that it doesn’t much harm them when they do.” You can read the heart-wrenching stories of Gigi and four other kids — and the families they left behind — at The Washington Post.