Utah Gov. Spencer Cox is joining President Joe Biden in calling for flags to be lowered in honor of the lives lost to COVID-19.
The governor — who announced on Twitter Thursday he’s tested positive for the virus but so far feels fine and is isolating — authorized the immediate lowering of U.S. and state flags flying at all state facilities. The flags are to remain at half-staff through sunset Monday in accordance with the president’s proclamation.
Biden said in a statement issued earlier Thursday that his action was to “mark a tragic milestone: one million American lives lost to COVID-19. One million empty chairs around the dinner table. Each an irreplaceable loss. Each leaving behind a family, a community, and a nation forever changed because of this pandemic.”
Although NBC News reported that milestone had been reached a week ago, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention put the total number of lives lost in the United States to COVID-19 at 995,747 deaths Thursday.
The Utah Department of Health, which now updates the state’s virus statistics weekly rather than daily under the governor’s “steady state’ response to the pandemic, posted Thursday that the state has seen 4,761 deaths due to COVID-19.
That’s an increase of one additional life lost since May 5, and coronavirus cases are continuing to rise in Utah. Thursday, the state health department reported there have been 3,385 new cases in the past week, more than a 30% increase in the seven-day average case count.
The president said he understands “the pain of that black hole” in the hearts of those who have lost loved ones to COVID-19.
“As a nation, we must not grow numb to such sorrow. 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 said.
The White House is pushing Congress to act on a request for $22.5 billion to continue battling the virus. A bipartisan $10 billion funding package negotiated with the help of Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, has been stalled over the administration’s easing of pandemic restrictions at the U.S.-Mexico border.