FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Fort Wayne’s NBC and AP) – The COVID-19 death toll in the U.S. has topped 500,000, all but matching the number of Americans killed in World War II, Korea and Vietnam combined.
The lives lost, as recorded by Johns Hopkins University, are about equal to the population of Kansas City, Missouri, and greater than that of Miami; Raleigh, North Carolina; or Omaha, Nebraska.
The U.S. toll is by far the highest reported in the world.
Despite the rollout of vaccines since mid-December, a closely watched model from the University of Washington projects more than 589,000 dead by June 1.
President Joe Biden addressed the nation Monday evening, noting the somber milestone.
“For the loved ones left behind, I know all too well,” he said. “I know what it’s like to not be there when it happens. I know what it’s like when you are there holding their hands as they look in your eye and they slip away, that black hole in your chest… You feel like you’ve been sucked into it,” he said.
Biden called for an end to “the politics of misinformation that’s divided families, communities and the country.”
He observed a moment of silence outside the White House following that address.
Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb has directed state offices to lower flags to half-staff through sunset on Friday and is asking private citizens and businesses to do likewise.