The U.S. death toll from COVID-19 passed 500,000 on Monday, after a surge of cases across the entire country that began in the fall and has ebbed in recent weeks.
President Biden has ordered the flag at the White House lowered to half-mast, and will participate in a candle-lighting ceremony in honor of the victims on Monday evening. The Washington National Cathedral rang its bell 500 times, one for every 1,000 victims.
“We, as a Nation, must remember [the victims] so we can begin to heal, to unite, and find purpose as one Nation to defeat this pandemic,” Biden said in a presidential proclamation remembering those who died of the disease.
The U.S. has recorded over 28 million cases of coronavirus since the pandemic began, or 8.5 percent of the country’s population.
The number of new reported cases has declined dramatically in recent weeks, from a peak of over 300,000 on January 8 to about 52,200 new cases recorded on February 21. Meanwhile, the U.S. continues to administer between one and two million doses of coronavirus vaccines per day, although the pace of vaccinations has leveled off according to the Bloomberg coronavirus vaccine tracker.