NEW YORK: The United States has crossed the threshold of one million deaths from Covid-19, the White House said on Thursday, as the nation seeks to turn the page on the pandemic despite threats of another surge.
“Today, we mark a tragic milestone,” President Joe Biden said in a statement that acknowledged the “unrelenting” pain of bereaved families, and urged Americans to remain vigilant as cases tick back up.
“One million empty chairs around the dinner table,” Biden said. “Each an irreplaceable loss. Each leaving behind a family, a community, and a nation forever changed.”
Biden’s announcement came as he chaired a global virtual Covid summit, taking place as Europe also passed two million Covid deaths, focused on efforts to bring the pandemic under control worldwide and prepare for future health emergencies.
The US leader came to the summit hobbled by Congress’ failure to approve $22.5 billion in continued emergency Covid funding, including for the international supply of vaccines, and he warned it was “critical” for lawmakers to keep financing testing, vaccines and treatments.
America recorded its first Covid-19 death, on the West Coast, in early February 2020. By the next month, the virus was ravaging New York and the White House was predicting up to 240,000 deaths nationwide.
But those projections were way off.
Even in New York – the hard-hit early epicenter of America’s Covid crisis – the million death milestone was difficult to comprehend.