Monday marked a grim milestone for the nation in the fight against the coronavirus, as the number of Americans killed by the virus topped 500,000.

"Each day, I receive a small card in my pocket that I carry with me in my schedule," President Biden said solemnly at a White House memorial ceremony. "It shows the number of Americans who've been infected by or died from COVID-19."

The president spoke for just over 10 minutes, commemorating the lives of the 500,071 Americans who have died from the virus so far. "That's more lives lost to this virus than any other nation on earth," he remarked.

Biden called on Americans to resist becoming numb to the toll the pandemic has taken on the country. "We must do so to honor the dead, but equally important, care for the living — those left behind," he said.

He also urged people to do their part. "I ask us to act, remain vigilant, stay socially distanced, to mask up, get vaccinated when it's your turn."

After speaking, the president held a moment of silence at sunset and a candle-lighting ceremony outside the White House.

American flags have been ordered to be lowered at federal buildings for the next five days.

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