The US surpassed half a million coronavirus-related deaths Monday as the country continues to grapple with the pandemic.
In all, 500,071 deaths were related to COVID-19 complications while more than 28 million cases have been recorded in the country, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
US President Joe Biden has ordered all US flags in the country lowered to half-staff for five days to commemorate the lives lost to the virus. The flag atop the White House was seen at half-mast late Monday afternoon.
The US has, however, been slowing the virus' march with daily cases and deaths on a gradual decline since hitting all-time highs in early January.
Over 56,000 cases were confirmed Sunday, down dramatically from the nearly 300,000 that were recorded on Jan. 2.
Meanwhile, 1,249 deaths were also recorded on Sunday. While the figure is staggering, it is a far cry from mid-January, when roughly 4,000 fatalities were occurring each day.
The decline comes as the US has distributed over 75 million doses of the two vaccines the Food and Drug Administration has cleared for emergency usage, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data. Over 64 million doses have been administered.
California has the highest number of deaths and infections in the country, with the state reporting more than 49,000 fatalities and more than 3.5 million cases.
In an address to the nation Monday evening, Biden called the death toll "a truly grim, heartbreaking milestone.”
"That’s more Americans who have died in one year in this pandemic than in World War One, World War Two, and the Vietnam War combined. That’s more lives lost to this virus than any other nation on Earth," he said.
The president called on all Americans to remain vigilant, stay socially distanced, mask up and get vaccinated.
"We have to fight this together, as one people, as the United States of America. That’s the only way we're going to beat this virus, I promise you," he added./aa