U.S. President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden hold a moment of silence in honor of those who lost their lives to COVID-19 during a candelight ceremony held at the White House in Washington, D.C. (Photo: EPA-Yonhap News)
More than half a million people have been lost to the coronavirus in the United States.
The grim milestone was reached Monday, matching the number of Americans killed in World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam combined.
President Joe Biden described the deaths as truly heartbreaking.
He held a moment of silence and a candle-lighting ceremony at the White House, reminding people that they have to "resist becoming numb to the sorrow."
"We often hear people described as ordinary Americans. There's no such thing. There's nothing ordinary about them. The people we lost were extraordinary. They span generations. Born in America, immigrated to America. But just like that, so many of them took their final breath alone in America."
The U.S. toll is by far the highest reported in the world, accounting for 20 percent of the nearly 2.5 million coronavirus deaths globally, according to data by Johns Hopkins University, though it is believed the true numbers are significantly higher as many cases were overlooked early in the outbreak.
The first known deaths from the virus in the U.S. were recorded in February 2020.
It took four months for the country to reach its first 100,000 deaths, then the toll hit 200,000 in September, 300,000 in December, and rose to 400,000 in just over a month before taking another month to climb to 500,000.
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