As the United States nears 1 million COVID-19 deaths, President Joe Biden ordered flags to half-staff on Thursday for those who died from the virus.
Flags will remain at half-staff through sunset on May 16.
As of Thursday morning, Johns Hopkins University reported nearly 999,000 COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. since the start of the pandemic. Official government figures put the tally around 995,000.
“As a nation, we must not grow numb to such sorrow,” Biden said. “To heal, we must remember. We must remain vigilant against this pandemic and do everything we can to save as many lives as possible, as we have with more testing, vaccines, and treatments than ever before. It’s critical that Congress sustain these resources in the coming months.”
Biden has called for an additional $10 billion in funds intended to fight the next phase of the pandemic. The White House says funding for items such as testing and vaccinations, which have been made available to Americans for free, could run out.
The White House has warned that running out of such funding could set back America’s progress in battling the pandemic.
“I think we don't want to sugarcoat it that we need more money,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said. “We don't have a plan B here. We will use the few funds we have remaining to continue getting tests, treatments, and vaccines out to Americans for as long as we can. And we're going to continue to work the phones, hold briefings, and make our case publicly and privately with lawmakers, imploring Congress to act immediately after our long -- after -- to help us on our long-overdue COVID needs.”
Earlier this week, congressional Democrats were forced to remove COVID-19 funding from a bill that also had military and economic aid for Ukraine. The Ukraine aid bill passed with strong bipartisan support in the House and awaits a vote in the Senate.
Congressional Republicans say they won’t fund COVID-19 programs unless the Biden administration agrees to roll back Title 42, which expedites deportations at the U.S. border.