Moment Of Silence At White House For More Than 500K Lives Lost To COVID

CBS4's Natalie Brand has more on the somber memorial in D.C.

Video Transcript

- Now at 7:00, a somber memorial and moment of silence at the White House to honor the lives of the more than 500,000 Americans lost in the pandemic. The South portico of the White House glowed with the flames of 500 candles, representing the once unthinkable milestone.

- CBS 4's Natalie Brand joins us live from Washington DC with more on the candlelight vigil and the president's COVID relief bill, which cleared one hurdle. Natalie--

NATALIE BRAND: Well, Lauren, Elliott, those candles a striking image on the South Lawn, or near the South Lawn. And here at the White House, the flags have also been lowered to half staff to honor the lives lost. The president calling it an unfathomable number and putting this sobering milestone in perspective in his remarks tonight.

A moment of silence at the White House.

[MUSIC - "AMAZING GRACE"]

--where the president and vise president held a candle-lighting ceremony to mark the grim milestone of 500,000 lives lost to the pandemic in the US.

JOE BIDEN: That's more Americans who died in one year of this pandemic than in World War I, World War II, and the Vietnam War combined. Remember those we lost and those who are left behind. But as remember-- as we all remember, I also ask us to act.

[BELLS CHIME]

- The bells tolled 500 times at the National Cathedral in Washington.

NATALIE BRAND: To address the ongoing economic fallout of COVID, President Biden announced several changes to the Paycheck Protection Program to try and help small businesses that are still struggling.

JOE BIDEN: When the Paycheck Protection Program was passed, a lot of these mom and pop businesses got muscled out of the way.

NATALIE BRAND: Starting Wednesday, the administration will hold a special two-week application period for businesses with fewer than 20 employees to allow lenders to focus on helping the smallest of companies. Additionally, $1 billion will be set aside to help sole proprietors and independent contractors. And it's also clarifying rules allowing non-citizen legal residents to apply to the program.

- The American Rescue Plan of 2021 is ordered reported to the House of Representatives with a favorable recommendation.

NATALIE BRAND: The president's $1.9 trillion relief plan passed out of the House Budget Committee today, setting the stage for a possible full vote in the House by the end of the week.

Now back to the Paycheck Protection Program, other changes announced today will remove a restriction on small business owners with the conviction of a non-fraud felony in the past year, as well as those behind on federal student loans. Senator Marco Rubio, who helped develop this plan in the Senate, urged the Biden administration to work with Republicans and Democrats in Congress as they consider changes to the bipartisan program. Lauren.