Politics

Joe Biden marks 1M COVID-19 deaths by pushing Congress to act on funding

President Biden on Thursday marked 1 million U.S. lives lost to COVID-19 by pressing Congress to pass new funding for the virus fight, saying “to heal, we must remember.”

“We must remain vigilant against this pandemic and do everything we can to save as many lives as possible, as we have with more testing, vaccines, and treatments than ever before. It’s critical that Congress sustain these resources in the coming months,” Mr. Biden said.

The Johns Hopkins University tracker — the commonly cited dashboard — recorded closer to 999,000 deaths from COVID-19 when the White House released the statement, though other models may have hit 1 million.

Reaching the grim milestone was an inevitability as more than 300 persons die each day, on average, from the disease in the U.S.

The rate is quite low compared to the rest of the pandemic, as vaccines and treatments appear to keep mortality from rising at the same rate as cases.

Still, the toll is a staggering reminder of the persistent danger the coronavirus has posed even as the country pivots back to normal.

Mr. Biden marked 400,000 deaths on the eve of his inauguration in January 2021. The virus appeared to be contained in the early part of the Biden administration and vaccine rollout, only for waves of the delta and omicron variants to set back the effort.

Doctors reported that many deaths occurred in the unvaccinated persons or vaccinated persons who were older and frail — particularly those who weren’t boosted.

The U.S. is the highest official toll of any nation, though a recent World Health Organization report on excess deaths suggests other nations dramatically undercounted their deaths. India, for instance, had millions of excess deaths, suggesting a much higher virus toll. 

Mr. Biden is wrestling with Congress for $10 billion in funding for booster shots and treatments so the country can sustain the fight and stay prepared in case another variant hits. 

But first, Republicans in the Senate want to use the legislative process to target the administration’s decision to lift Title 42, a pandemic measure that made it easy to turn away migrants at the southern border.

Democratic leaders are weighing whether to allow a vote on the measures to get the funding package that Mr. Biden demanded.

“As a nation, we must not grow numb to such sorrow. To heal, we must remember,” he said. “In remembrance, let us draw strength from each other as fellow Americans. For while we have been humbled, we never give up. We can and will do this together as the United States of America.”

For more information, visit The Washington Times COVID-19 resource page.

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