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President Biden marked the loss of 1 million Americans to the COVID-19 pandemic Thursday.
Biden released a written statement Thursday morning and is expected to issue a presidential proclamation ordering flags to half-staff later in the day. The milestone comes the same day that Biden is scheduled to lead the 2nd global COVID-19 summit.
“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,” Biden wrote. “Jill and I pray for each of them.”
Biden went on to urge Congress to sustain funding for additional COVID-19 tests, vaccines and treatments.
“May God bless the one million American lives lost and their loved ones left behind,” he concluded.
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Biden will address the 2nd global COVID-19 summit later Thursday, which the U.S. is hosting. Roughly 30 nations, international organizations and companies will be participating in virtual event, according to the White House.
The U.S. is expected to reemphasize the importance of vaccinating global populations both to save lives and to prevent the spread of additional COVID variants. The U.S. has led the world in donating vaccine doses, pledging to deliver 1.1 billion doses for global use by the end of 2023.
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The COVID-19 pandemic has continued to hound Biden’s presidency since he entered office. His inauguration came when the pandemic was winding down for most Americans, but the virus – and government restrictions – surged back last fall.