In the early evening, President Biden commemorated their deaths at the White House, along with his wife, Jill Biden, as well as Vice President Kamala Harris and her spouse, Doug Emhoff.
Outside the White House, the two couples, wearing masks and distanced from each other, observed a minute of silence in front of stairs where hundreds of candles were arranged.
Adopting a tone that contrasted with that of his predecessor, President Biden had, a few minutes earlier, paid tribute to the victims of COVID-19, during a ten-minute televised address.
We often hear people described as “ordinary Americans”. There is nothing ordinary about them, he argued.
The people we lost were amazing. They belonged to several generations. They were born in America or immigrated to America. But, overnight, several of them took their last breath, alone, in America.
Today is a truly sinister and heartbreaking milestone, lamented the American president.
500,071 dead: More Americans have died in a year in this pandemic than in WWI, WWII and the Vietnam War combined. This is more lives lost to this virus than in any other nation on Earth.
The pandemic has indeed been deadlier for Americans than the fighting in the three wars cited by President Biden combined.
However, the three conflicts have claimed more lives if we count the deaths that are not attributable to the fighting.
Around 9 p.m., the number of deaths recorded by Johns Hopkins University, whose figures are used as a reference, reached 500,201 victims. This is the fifth of some 2.5 million victims recorded in the world.
Even if the curve started to curve again, it only took about a month for 100,000 deaths to add to an already dramatic toll.
We will get out of this. I promise you, assured Joe Biden, who again gave a speech focused on unity.
The threshold of 400,000 deaths was exceeded in January, on the eve of the inauguration of Joe Biden, who has made the fight against the pandemic the top priority of his start in office.
When he took office, he warned that the toll of the pandemic in the United States was still likely to increase, to exceed the bar of 600,000 deaths.
Three states – California, New York and Texas – have more than 40,000 deaths each.
In a statement, the White House also said it had ordered the flags at the White House, on federal property, as well as on military posts, naval bases and embassies, to be half-masted for a period of five days. .
The country also has more than 28 million known cases.
A glimmer of hope
Despite reaching a symbolic milestone, the situation shows encouraging signs.
After a peak in the pandemic, the number of deaths, hospitalizations and new cases in the country has declined since mid-January, according to the databases of the New York Times and the COVID Tracking Project of the news media The Atlantic.
Speaking at a Pfizer vaccine plant in Michigan on Friday, Joe Biden also stressed how hopeful the current pace of vaccination is.
I believe we will get closer to normal by the end of this year, he said.
More than 61 million people have so far received one of the two vaccines authorized in the United States (Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna), of which 18 million have received the two required doses, according to AFP.
With an average of 1.7 million daily injections, which is expected to increase in the coming weeks, Joe Biden has shown his confidence that the United States will reach 600 million doses – enough to vaccinate the entire population – of here the end of July.
The cold snap in the country nonetheless slowed the vaccination campaign in all 50 states, said White House senior adviser on COVID-19 response Andy Slavitt.
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