Former Vice President Joe Biden marked the grim milestone of 100,000 U.S. deaths from COVID-19 with a video message directed at the family members of the victims that also offered a sharp rebuke of President Trump, the man he hopes to succeed in the White House.
“This is a fateful milestone we should have never reached and it could have been avoided, according to a study done by Columbia University, if the administration had acted just one week earlier to implement social distancing and do what it had to do,” Biden said on Wednesday from the basement of his home in Delaware. “Just one week sooner as many as 36,000 of these deaths might have been averted.”
Last week, an analysis published by researchers at Columbia University found that the U.S. could have prevented the deaths of 36,000 Americans from COVID-19 and recorded 700,000 fewer infections if the federal government had acted to implement social distancing measures on March 8 rather than March 15.
Biden, who has campaigned on his experience as vice president in helping manage public health emergencies such as the 2009 H1N1 pandemic and the 2014 Ebola outbreak, also expressed sorrow for the loss of life from the coronavirus.
“There are moments in our history so grim, so heartrending, that they’re forever fixed in each of our hearts as shared grief,” he tweeted. “Today is one of those moments. 100,000 lives have now been lost to this virus,” Biden said.
There are moments in our history so grim, so heart-rending, that they're forever fixed in each of our hearts as shared grief. Today is one of those moments. 100,000 lives have now been lost to this virus.
To those hurting, I'm so sorry for your loss. The nation grieves with you. pic.twitter.com/SBBRKV4mPZ
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) May 27, 2020
Trump, who spent the day traveling to Florida to attend the first space launch of astronauts from American soil in more than a decade — an event that was scrubbed due to weather — has refrained from mentioning the coronavirus death toll.
Over the past several weeks, the president has often said that “one death is too many,” while also urging states to loosen restrictions put in place to stop the spread of the virus.
Last week, Trump ordered that flags at U.S. government buildings, military posts and embassies to be flown at half-staff to honor those Americans who died in the pandemic.
“I will be lowering the flags on all Federal Buildings and National Monuments to half-staff over the next three days in memory to the Americans we have lost to the CronaVirus,” the president wrote on Twitter.
In his remarks, Biden also drew on his own experience dealing with the grief of the loss of his son Beau, who died of brain cancer in 2015.
“I know there’s nothing I or anyone else can say or do to dull the sharpness of pain you feel right now, but I can promise you from experience — the day will come when the memory of your loved one will bring a smile to your lips before it brings a tear to your eyes,” Biden said, adding, “My prayer for all of you is that day will come sooner rather than later, but I promise you it will come.”
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