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A ‘grim, heartbreaking milestone’: Biden mourns half-million dead from COVID

President Joe Biden led a somber ceremony at the White House, expressing grief for the 500,000 Americans who have died since last February's first known covid-19 fatality: "As we acknowledge the scale of this mass death in America, remember each person and the life they lived."

NBC News:'Find Purpose': Biden Marks 500,000 Covid-19 Deaths With Poignant Address To The Nation 

President Joe Biden marked the grim milestone of 500,000 lives lost to the Covid-19 pandemic in a brief but poignant address to the nation Monday evening, drawing on his own personal tragedies as a rhetorical salve for a country still combating the deadly disease. (Clark, 2/22)

AP: Biden Mourns 500,000 Dead, Balancing Nation's Grief And Hope

Related: Biden calls for moment of silence, orders flags to half-staff to remember 500,000 Americans dead from COVID-19

Biden stepped to a lectern in the White House Cross Hall, unhooked his face mask and delivered an emotion-filled eulogy for more than 500,000 Americans he said he felt he knew. "We often hear people described as ordinary Americans. There's no such thing," he said Monday evening. "There's nothing ordinary about them. The people we lost were extraordinary." (Lemire and Boak, 2/23)

Politico: Biden Calls For National Unity And Healing, As Coronavirus Death Toll Climbs Past 500,000 

In his emotional address, the president, who has a reputation for wearing his heart on his sleeve, leaned into his own personal family grief to comfort affected Americans. "For the loved ones left behind: I know all too well. I know what it's like to not be there when it happens. I know what it's like when you are there holding their hands, there's a look in their eye and they slip away," said Biden, whose first wife and infant daughter died in a car crash, and whose older son, Beau, he lost to brain cancer in 2015. (Din, 2/22)

Reuters: Bells Toll For Lives Lost As U.S. Reaches 500,000 COVID Deaths  

Bells tolled at the National Cathedral in Washington to honor the lives lost - ringing 500 times to symbolize the 500,000 deaths. "As we acknowledge the scale of this mass death in America, remember each person and the life they lived," Biden said in a somber speech at the White House after the bells sounded. (Caspani and Maan, 2/22)

NPR:'A Loss To The Whole Society': U.S. COVID-19 Death Toll Reaches 500,000 

Losing half a million lives to this disease was unimaginable when the first few people died of COVID-19 in the U.S last February. The disease soon began to ravage nursing homes and the five boroughs of New York City, frequently striking those left most vulnerable because of age, poor health, job requirements or crowded living conditions. Now, around 2,000 people die from the disease every day on average, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, down from a high of over 3,000 a day on average in mid-January. (Huang, 2/22)

AP: Half A Million Dead In US, Confirming Virus's Tragic Reach 

For weeks after Cindy Pollock began planting tiny flags across her yard — one for each of the more than 1,800 Idahoans killed by COVID-19 — the toll was mostly a number. Until two women she had never met rang her doorbell in tears, seeking a place to mourn the husband and father they had just lost. Then Pollock knew her tribute, however heartfelt, would never begin to convey the grief of a pandemic that has now claimed 500,000 lives in the U.S. and counting. "I just wanted to hug them," she said. "Because that was all I could do." (Geller, 2/23)

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BBC News: Covid US Death Toll: Imagining What 500,000 Lost Lives Look Like 

Half a million Americans have died of the coronavirus. Here's a look behind this grim milestone. (9/22)

And Dr. Anthony Fauci expresses his grief and frustration —

CNN:'We've Done Worse Than Most Any Other Country,' Fauci Says As US Marks Grim Covid-19 Death Toll 

The US has now surpassed the devastating milestone of half a million Covid-19 deaths. It's a staggering figure that experts say did not have to be this high. "I believe that if you look back historically, we've done worse than most any other country and we're a highly developed, rich country," Dr. Anthony Fauci told George Stephanopoulos on ABC's "Good Morning America" on Monday. (Maxouris, 2/23)

Reuters: Fauci Says U.S. Political Divisions Contributed To 500,000 Dead From COVID-19

In an interview with Reuters, [Dr. Anthony] Fauci on Monday said the pandemic arrived in the United States as the country was riven by political divisions in which wearing a mask became a political statement rather than a public health measure. "Even under the best of circumstances, this would have been a very serious problem," Fauci said, noting that despite strong adherence to public health measures, countries such as Germany and the UK struggled with the virus. "However, that does not explain how a rich and sophisticated country can have the most percentage of deaths and be the hardest-hit country in the world," said Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a top adviser to President Joe Biden. "That I believe should not have happened." (Steenhuysen, 2/22)

Fox News:Fauci Cautions Against Dining Out, Even When Vaccinated 

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top disease expert in the U.S., said Monday that Americans who have received their second vaccine jab should still exercise caution and try to resist the urge to dine out or go to the movies. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, was at the White House giving a press briefing on vaccine distribution in the U.S., and said those vaccinated have dramatically increased their own personal safety, but he said the country is "still at an unacceptably high baseline level" of new infection, according to Business Insider. (DeMarche, 2/23)

Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent news service. It is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health-care-policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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DoD photo by Lisa Ferdinando

President Joe Biden delivers remarks to Department of Defense personnel, with Vice President Kamala Harris and Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III, the Pentagon, Washington, D.C., Feb. 10, 2021.