Covid-19: US in mourning over 500,000 deaths

WASHINGTON, Feb 23 (NNN-AGENCIES) — President Joe Biden ordered flags
lowered to half mast after the United States crossed the
“heartbreaking” milestone of 500,000 Covid-19 deaths, while Britain eyed
lifting lockdowns in the latest sign of global gains against the pandemic.

“I know what it’s like,” an emotional Biden said in a national television
address, referring to his own long history of family tragedies.

“I ask all Americans to remember, remember those we lost and those they
left behind,” Biden said. “I also ask us to act, to remain vigilant, to say
socially distant, to mask up, to get vaccinated.”

Biden, accompanied by his wife Jill and Vice President Kamala Harris and
her husband Doug Emhoff, then stood outside the White House to mark a
moment’s silence in front of 500 candles representing the toll — the highest
reported of any country.

Earlier, flags were lowered over the White House and at federal buildings
nationwide as well as at embassies around the world.

“As a nation we cannot and must not let this go on,” Biden said, urging
unity. “We have to fight this together as one people, as the United States of
America.

Unlike his predecessor Donald Trump, who often sought to minimize the
disease, Biden has made the pandemic his top priority, simultaneously pushing an aggressive vaccine rollout and making frequent, public shows of empathy.

It is a strategy that could make or break the Biden presidency, already
juggling high-stakes economic challenges and the tense political aftermath of the Trump era.

Biden has warned that the US toll could still go “well over” 600,000.

But signs are also emerging that progress is being made both in the United
States and around the world, with infections dropping sharply and vaccine
deliveries rising steadily.

Despite the dramatic losses in the United States, the trend is also
sharply downward.

Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control, said US
deaths are at their lowest since December, with a 39 percent drop in the
latest seven-day average of new daily cases.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 61 million people
have received at least one shot of vaccine in the United States, with some 18
million getting the full two doses.

Globally, the death toll is nearing 2.5 million. — NNN-AGENCIES