Biden speaks as United States COVID-19 death toll soars past 500,000

President Joe Biden holds his face mask as he speaks during an event to commemorate the 50 millionth COVID-19 shot, in the South Court Auditorium on the White House campus, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

On Sunday night, the United States reached a grim milestone in the fight against COVID-19, with the coronavirus death toll surpassing 500,000 since the beginning of the pandemic, according to an NBC News tally

The following night, 500 candles lit the White House Cross Hall as Joe Biden shared a national moment of silence, honoring the half-million lives lost. Flanked by First Lady Jill Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff, the president offered mournful remarks to the United States public, according to AP News.  

Delivering a eulogy, Biden remarked he felt like he “knew” all those who had passed, and referred to them as “extraordinary” Americans. 

Speaking as someone who has been through the loss of a loved one, the president addressed the grief of many members of our nation. 

“I know all too well. I know what it’s like to not be there when it happens,” said President Biden. “I know what it’s like when you are there, holding their hands, as they look in your eye and they slip away. That black hole in your chest, you feel like you’re being sucked into it.” 

The president ended his remarks with a message of hope for the American people, urging citizens to wear their masks and “stay vigilant” in the fight against COVID-19. 

“This nation will smile again. This nation will know sunny days again. This nation will know joy again. And as we do, we’ll remember each person we’ve lost, the lives they lived, the loved ones they left behind,” said President Biden. 

This hope could perhaps come from a push for vaccine rollout. The U.S. is poised to have three million vaccine doses available per day by April, according to Politico.  

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