US flags to fly at half-staff, Biden to lead candle-lit commemoration as America’s Covid death toll hits 500,000


US President Joe Biden will lead a candle-lit vigil to commemorate Americans who died with Covid-19, after the country crossed the grim marker of 500,000 coronavirus-related deaths on Monday.

A tally compiled by Reuters reported that the US death toll from the virus had reached 500,054 as of Monday, with over 28 million registered cases of the disease across the country since the outbreak of the pandemic.

American flags at all federal buildings will be flown at half-staff for five days to mark the deaths, according to White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki. 

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Biden will observe a moment’s silence at a special ceremony that will also be attended by his wife Jill, Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff. The four also jointly commemorated those lost to the pandemic on the eve of Inauguration Day, as the US death toll reached 400,000.  

The president has warned that the US death toll could surge past 600,000, and has pledged that the entire US population will be vaccinated by July.

The US has one of the world’s worst per-capita death tolls in the pandemic and has also recorded more deaths due to the virus than any other country, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. 

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