President Joe Biden commemorated the deaths of 500,000 Americans from COVID-19 at the White House on Monday, just over a year since the coronavirus pandemic claimed its first known victim in the country.

“Today we mark a truly grim, heartbreaking milestone.”

“As a nation, we cannot accept such a cruel fate.”

Biden also called on Americans to remain vigilant, continue wearing masks, and set aside partisan differences… and fight the pandemic together.

“We must end the politics of misinformation that have divided families, communities and the country. It’s cost too many lives already.”

Biden’s top adviser on COVID-19, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said political divisiveness contributed significantly to the “stunning” death toll.

“There’s red states and blue states that, you know, are almost hostile to each other in some respects because of political differences. I think that’s the worst possible ingredients to be able to address an outbreak of an infection that – even under the best of circumstances – would be a formidable challenge.”

The United States on Monday crossed the staggering milestone of 500,000 COVID-19 deaths just over a year since the coronavirus pandemic claimed its first known victim in Santa Clara County, California.

About 19% of total global coronavirus deaths have occurred in the United States, an outsized figure given that the nation accounts for just 4% of the world’s population.

Bells tolled at the National Cathedral in Washington to honor the lives lost – ringing 500 times to symbolize the 500,000 deaths.

Biden also ordered that all flags on federal properties and military facilities be lowered to half-staff for the next five days.

After his speech, Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and their spouses stood silently as “Amazing Grace” was played.

The nation is expected to reach that mark on Monday, just over a year after the first confirmed U.S. fatality due to the novel coronavirus.

The White House said Biden will deliver remarks at sunset to honor those who lost their lives. He will be joined by first lady Jill Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff. They will participate in the moment of silence and lighting ceremony.

Biden has made a point of recognizing the lives lost from the virus. His first event upon arriving in Washington for his inauguration a month ago was to deliver remarks at a COVID-19 memorial ceremony.

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