Biden marks the approaching milestone of 1 million U.S. COVID-19 deaths.

President Biden on Thursday marked the approaching milestone of 1 million U.S. deaths in the coronavirus pandemic.

“One million empty chairs around the dinner table. Each an irreplaceable loss,” he said in a statement. “Each leaving behind a family, a community, and a nation forever changed because of this pandemic.”

“It does take my breath away, that we seem to have a million people in two years who have died from this pandemic,” Dr. Lori Peek, a professor in the department of sociology and director of the Natural Hazards Center at the University of Colorado Boulder, told ABC News. “Every time that someone died from this pandemic, they left behind family and friends, schoolmates or coworkers, and really let that sink in for a minute.”

When the U.S. hit 100,000 recorded COVID deaths in May 2020, The New York Times’ front page was filled with the names of people. When the country hit 500,000, President Joe Biden called it a “truly grim, heartbreaking milestone.”

On Thursday, Biden released a statement marking the milestone of a million deaths and plans to order flags to half-staff in remembrance.

“Today, we mark a tragic milestone: one million American lives lost to COVID-19. One million empty chairs around the dinner table. Each an irreplaceable loss. Each leaving behind a family, a community, and a nation forever changed because of this pandemic. Jill and I pray for each of them,” he said. “As a nation, we must not grow numb to such sorrow. To heal, we must remember.”

Biden went on to say, “As a nation, we must not grow numb to such sorrow. To heal, we must remember. We must remain vigilant against this pandemic and do everything we can to save as many lives as possible, as we have with more testing, vaccines, and treatments than ever before.”

In the wake of the winter surge, the daily toll of COVID-19 deaths has slowed in recent months. The 7-day moving average is now around 300 deaths reported per day — down from over 3,000 per day in February. 

Joe Biden

But cases and hospitalizations are once again accelerating, many linked to the fast-spreading BA.2.12.1 subvariant of Omicron that now makes up more than a third of new infections. 

On May 4, for the first time in months, the CDC warned it predicted the pace of new COVID-19 deaths would “likely increase” nationwide over the coming weeks. 

surpassed the total of the country’s military deaths in World War I and it would exceed the American military losses of War World II by January 2021 when more than 405,000 deaths were recorded.

The disease has left few places on Earth untouched, with 6.7 million confirmed deaths globally.

Last week, the WHO said nearly 15 million people were killed either by COVID-19 or by its impact on overwhelmed health systems during the past two years.

The estimation is more than double the official death toll of just over 5.4 million.

Millions of Americans eagerly rolled up their sleeves to receive COVID vaccines after distribution began in late 2020. By early 2021, the virus had already claimed a staggering 500,000 lives.

At one point in January of that year, more people died from COVID-19 every day on average than were killed in the September 11 attacks in 2001.

The president urged Congress to approve additional funding he requested to fight the pandemic. Without more money, the United States will lose its place in line for new COVID-19 treatments and vaccines for the fall when a new variant could hit, according to the administration.

Republicans have insisted that the funding could come from previously passed pandemic packages. 

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