WASHINGTON. The flag over the White House waved at half-mast in the cold winter air, and hundreds of candles on the south side of the building commemorated the corona deaths in the United States. President Joe Biden, First Lady Jill, Vice President Kamala Harris, and her husband Douglas Emhoff bowed. With bowed heads they observed a minute’s silence, hands clasped as if in prayer. Shortly thereafter, a military band played the song “Amazing Grace”.
“Today we mark a truly gritty and heartbreaking milestone,” said Biden. According to data from the University of Johns Hopkins (JHU), the USA exceeded the threshold of more than 500,000 corona deaths. “That’s more Americans who died in a year of the pandemic than in World War I, World War II, and the Vietnam War combined. That’s more lives taken from the virus than any other country in the world.”
Flags at half mast
However, the president warned Americans not to be dulled by the “unimaginable” number of victims. “We have to fight against becoming deaf to suffering. We have to fight against seeing every life as a statistic.” To commemorate the dead, Biden ordered flags to be lowered to half-mast across the country. This applies to five days at public buildings, military bases and diplomatic missions abroad.
The winter months of the pandemic were devastating in the United States. Since the beginning of January alone, more than 150,000 people have died after being infected with the virus, with 28.2 million confirmed infections. But America wouldn’t be America if it weren’t for the hope of better times. In the past few weeks, the number of new infections has dropped significantly. In the meantime, an average of around 77,000 new cases are reported per day, at the height of the crisis in January the seven-day average was 250,000 new infections per day.
At the same time, the government’s vaccination program is making good progress. Biden had promised 100 million vaccinations in the first 100 days of his tenure – he could exceed it. So far 63 million vaccinations have been given, and a good 13 percent of the population have received at least one dose from Pfizer / Biontech or Moderna. Around 1.8 million vaccinations are currently administered every day. The number could soon rise to up to three million vaccinations a day. In the next six weeks alone, 145 million additional cans are to be delivered.
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