Joe Biden on Monday will order flags on all US federal buildings to be lowered to half mast in commemoration of the imminent half million mark in the country’s death count from Covid-19, the White House said.
Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters the gesture would last five days.
More than 500,000 people have died from Covid-19 in the United States since the pandemic began, according to Johns Hopkins University on Monday, by far the highest reported count of any country.
The catastrophic US figure comes as some signs of hope are emerging in the world’s hardest-hit country, with millions of people now vaccinated and winter’s massive spike in infections dropping.
Still, the grim threshold was reached only about a month after the US recorded 400,000 fatalities from the disease in mid-January, with cases now on the decline but deaths continuing to mount.
The count, 500,071, is more than double the number in absolute terms of reported deaths in Brazil, which has the world’s second highest count.
“It’s terrible. It is historic. We haven’t seen anything even close to this for well over a hundred years, since the 1918 pandemic of influenza,” Anthony Fauci, chief medical advisor to US President Joe Biden, said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet The Press.”
After the first Covid-19 death was announced in the US in February 2020 it took about three months to pass the 100,000 mark, during a first wave that hit New York particularly hard.
It took another four months to reach 200,000 fatalities, and just under three more months to reach 300,000.
Cases surged into the winter season which brought people indoors for holiday gatherings. The total reported number of known infections was over 28 million on Monday.