US leaders mark 1 million Covid deaths

Country leads the world in recorded deaths, although most counts around the world are expected to be undercounts

American flags fly at half-staff to mark one million deaths from the coronavirus on the National Mall in Washington. EPA
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US President Joe Biden ordered that American flags fly at half-mast on Thursday when he marked a milestone of one million dead to Covid-19 in the country.

“One million empty chairs around the dinner table. Each an irreplaceable loss,” he said in a statement released by the White House.

“Each leaving behind a family, a community and a nation forever changed because of this pandemic.”

Vice President Kamala Harris tweeted: “We remember and honour those lost to this virus. I send my prayers to the loved ones who have endured such pain during this pandemic.”

The US leads the world in recorded deaths, although most counts around the world are expected to be undercounts.

The director general of the World Health Organisation also sent his condolences for the event, which occurred on the same day the US hosted a second online global Covid summit.

“I offer my deep condolences to all Americans, especially those who have lost someone they love,” he tweeted.

A bipartisan group of congressional leaders, led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, held a moment of silence on the front steps of the US Capitol on Thursday afternoon.

A million people have died. It’s such a terrible toll,” Ms Pelosi in remarks earlier in the day.

“And when you think of what it means in the lives of those families. So, we send, of course, our condolences to the families, the children, the siblings, the friends, the colleagues, the spouses of those lost as the heartbreak continues.”

She used the milestone to push for Covid funding that has stalled in Congress, which the White House also claims as one of its highest priorities.

Despite the grim milestone and as many American look to return to normal life, cases and hospital admissions are increasing as Omicron sub-variants gain a hold in the US.

“A heartbreaking milestone: one million lives lost to Covid-19. We can't become numb to such loss,” US Surgeon General Dr Vivek Murthy tweeted.

“Instead, let's honour them by recommitting to protecting our communities from Covid.”

Updated: May 13, 2022, 5:49 AM