A running tally of people in the United States dying with the disease was near 499,000 as of Monday morning. Official data from the U.S. government, which lags behind, says that there have been just under 466,961 deaths involving COVID-19 as of Feb. 13.
Biden in the evening will deliver remarks on “the lives lost to COVID-19,” according to the White House.
Afterwards, he, First Lady Jill Biden, and Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband, “will hold a moment of silence and candle lighting ceremony at sundown in the South Portico.”
The 500,000 mark will come about a month after the death toll hit 400,000.
Biden’s pick to head the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who was later confirmed, said Jan. 17 that the United States would see over 100,000 COVID-19 deaths in the month ahead.
“By the middle of February, we expect half a million deaths in this country,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky said, in a projection that proved to be accurate.
“That doesn’t speak to the tens of thousands of people who are living with a yet uncharacterized syndrome after they’ve recovered. And we still yet haven’t seen the ramifications of what happened from the holiday travel, from holiday gathering, in terms of high rates of hospitalizations and the deaths thereafter. So, yes, I think we still have some dark weeks ahead.”
Biden administration officials have urged Americans to keep wearing masks and social distancing as the death toll rises, even as over 43 million people have received a COVID-19 vaccine, with nearly 19 million getting two shots. They’ve also offered glimmers of hope. Biden said last week he thinks the United States will be “approaching normalcy” by Christmas, though a top adviser said Sunday masks may still need to be worn into 2022.
(L-R) Douglas Emhoff, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, Jill Biden and President-elect Joe Biden look down the National Mall as lamps are lit to honor the nearly 400,000 American victims of the COVID-19 pandemic, at the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool in Washington on Jan. 19, 2021. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Biden, Harris, and their spouses held a similar ceremony for COVID-19 victims at the Lincoln Memorial on Jan. 19, the day before Biden and Harris were sworn into office.
After being inaugurated, Biden signed an executive order mandating people wear masks in federal buildings and on federal lands.
Biden was seen maskless at the memorial.
Biden broke his future rule because he was “celebrating an evening of a historic day in our country,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki previously said.
Biden spent Saturday visiting the late Sen. Bob Dole (R-Kan.) before going to church and getting updates from national security advisers and other members of his administration. Biden told reporters that Dole was “doing well.”
Biden didn’t speak to reporters on Sunday.
Biden is slated to hold a virtual bilateral meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday, about a week after Harris met with Trudeau. Biden’s schedule this week also includes a virtual discussion with essential workers and virtual remarks to the National Governors Association, as he continues to primarily stay in Washington amid the COVID-19 pandemic.