• Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Biden Commemorates 500,000 COVID-19 Deaths in White House Speech

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

US President Joe Biden delivered remarks at the White House on February 22 as part of commemorations on Monday marking 500,000 deaths from COVID-19 in the United States.

“We have to resist becoming numb to the sorrow,” said Biden. “We have to resist viewing each life as a statistic, or a blur.”

Biden also drew on his own experience of close family loss in his speech.

“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.”

Following his remarks, Biden was joined by Vice President Kamala Harris, First Lady Jill Biden, and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff for a moment of silence outside the White House. Credit: White House via Storyful

Video Transcript

JOE BIDEN: 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. As a nation, we can't accept such a cruel fate. While we were fighting this pandemic for so long, we have to resist becoming numb to the sorrow. We have to resist viewing each life as a statistic, or a blur, or on the news. We must do so to honor the dead-- but equally important-- care for the living and those who left behind. For the loved ones left behind.

I know all too well. 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, they look in your eye and they slip away. That black hole in your chest, you feel like you're being sucked into it. The survivor's remorse, the anger. The questions of faith in your soul. For some of you it's been a year, a month, a week, a day, even an hour. And I know that when you stare at that empty chair around the kitchen table, it brings it all back no matter how long ago it happened, as if it just happened at that moment when you're looking at that empty chair. The birthdays, the anniversaries, the holidays without them. And the everyday things, the small things, the tiny things that you miss the most-- that scent when you open the closet, that park you go by you used to stroll in, that movie theater where you met, the morning coffee you shared together, the bend in his smile, the perfect pitch to her laugh.