By Veronica Stracqualursi, CNN
President Joe Biden on Friday mourned the hundreds of thousands in the United States who have died from Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic, saying that “each soul is irreplaceable.”
The US reported Friday that there had been more than 900,000 deaths from the coronavirus since the World Health Organization declared Covid-19 a global pandemic on March 11, 2020, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Experts believe the true burden of disease to be much higher.
“Today, our nation marks another tragic milestone — 900,000 American lives have been lost to COVID-19,” the President said in a written statement released Friday night. “They were beloved mothers and fathers, grandparents, children, brothers and sisters, neighbors, and friends. Each soul is irreplaceable.”
Biden acknowledged the length of the pandemic, saying that “after nearly two years, I know that the emotional, physical, and psychological weight of this pandemic has been incredibly difficult to bear.”
The President, who has been open about his personal experiences in losing family members and dealing with grief, added that he “know(s) what it’s like to stare at an empty chair around the kitchen table” but that he “also know(s) that we carry an incredible capacity within ourselves — not only to come through our grief stronger, but to come together to protect one another.”
Biden urged Americans to get vaccinated and boosted against Covid-19, calling vaccines “our most important tool” in fighting the virus and saying the nation can save lives “if everybody does their part.”
Unvaccinated adults have a 97 times greater risk of dying from Covid-19 than adults who are fully vaccinated and boosted, according to the latest data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The Covid-19 pandemic remains one of Biden’s biggest challenges a year into his presidency.
As the administration continues to battle the Omicron variant and push for vaccinations, latest US data shows cases and hospitalizations are trending downward. Still, for the past two weeks, there have been more than 2,000 new Covid-19 deaths reported each day in the US, according to Johns Hopkins.
The Biden administration recently faced blowback over a testing shortage as the Omicron variant spread. To fight that variant, the administration launched additional testing sites, ordered a billion rapid tests and started shipping them nationwide, and ordered millions of N95 masks it plans to distribute around the country.
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CNN’s Sam Fossum and Deidre McPhillips contributed to this report.