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U.S. surpasses 500,000 confirmed COVID-19 deaths

The United States has now recorded more than 500,000 COVID-19 deaths, data compiled by Johns Hopkins University shows.

President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, joined by first lady Jill Biden and second gentleman Doug Emhoff, will mark the solemn milestone with a moment of silence and a candle-lighting ceremony at the White House at sundown on Monday. Earlier in the day, Biden also ordered that all flags on federal property be lowered to half staff for the next five days to honor the deceased.

The United States continues to lead the world in confirmed coronavirus deaths, with slightly more than twice the fatalities recorded by Brazil, home to the globe’s second highest death toll.

The virus remains a serious public health threat in the U.S. (and across the world), though cases have been declining steadily for weeks now, and vaccinations are ramping up, providing an inkling of hope.

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