Biden marked the upcoming 500,000 deaths from Covid-19 with a candlelight ceremony on Monday

The event, which will take place at the White House at 6:15 p.m. ET, will also include First Lady Jill Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff. Biden will make comments on the lives lost before the ceremony.

The ceremony underscores the empathetic message Biden has sought to convey to the U.S. coronavirus response since taking office last month – a departure from his predecessor. On Friday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the government was working on plans so that the president, with his “own voice and platform, could take a moment to remember the people whose lives have been lost.” the families who are still suffering “.

A day before they took office, Biden, Harris and their spouses held a somber ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial to commemorate the 400,000 deaths Covid-19 lost in the US at the time.

“In order to heal, we have to remember,” Biden said at the January event. Harris also spoke briefly at the memorial, noting that “we have mourned alone for many months. Tonight we mourn and begin to heal together.”

Her message contrasts with former President Donald Trump, who often defended his administration’s response to the pandemic but rarely expressed mourning for the victims. In September, Trump told Axios on HBO that the Covid-19 death toll in the US “is as it is”.

“They die. That’s true. And you – it is what it is,” Trump said at the time. “But that doesn’t mean we don’t do all we can. It’s as much under control as you can control it.”

As the number of coronavirus cases declines and vaccinations increase, the US is working hard to control the threat of new variants. Experts – both inside and outside the White House – are still far from certain whether America will finally claw its way out of the pandemic. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease specialist, told CNN Sunday that it was “possible”. Americans will still have to wear masks to protect themselves from the coronavirus in 2022, even if the US could achieve “a significant level of normalcy” by the end of this year.

“This is a race to get the vaccine to market widely enough and fast enough to rule out the possibility of further strains spreading,” said Dr. Bala Hota, an infectious disease specialist at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. “We’re not out of the woods yet.”

This story was updated with additional information on Sunday.

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