The US is on track to top 500,000 deaths from Covid-19 – the most for any country in the world – on Monday, February 22, 2021.
It comes just over a year after the first infection of the novel coronavirus, first detected in China, was recorded on the US west coast.
The grim milestone will be marked by a candle-lighting ceremony and moment of silence at the White House. President Joe Biden will also deliver remarks.
More than 28.1 million Americans have been infected – another global record.
The number of Americans who have had the coronavirus is nearly double that of second-highest India (11 million) and Brazil (10.1 million). Brazil has recorded the second-largest death toll at 244,000 while Mexico is in third with 178,000.
“People decades from now are going to be talking about this as a terribly historic milestone in the history of this country, to have these many people to have died from a respiratory-borne infection,” the nation’s top immunologist, Dr Anthony Fauci, told CNN on Sunday.
At least 90,000 more Americans are expected to be killed by 1 June, according to a recent projection from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME).
The IHME estimates that by late May, the virus will kill around 500 Americans per day – down from approximately 2,000 daily deaths now.
Hospital admission rates have fallen for 40 straight days, as approximately 1.6 million vaccinations are administered to Americans daily.
To mark the death toll, President Biden will at the White House, be accompanied by his wife Jill, as well as Vice-President Kamala Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff.
They will gather at the building’s South Portico for a candle-lighting ceremony, which will take place just after sunset. Mr Biden will also deliver remarks and a moment of silence will be held for the victims of the pandemic.
White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said on Monday that Mr Biden will ask all Americans to join the moment of silence and will also order all flags on federal property to be lowered to half-staff for the next five days.
His remarks, she said, will “highlight the magnitude of loss that this milestones marks for the American people and American families across the country”.
“He will speak to the power of the American people to turn the tide on this pandemic by working together, following public health guidelines and getting in line to be vaccinated as soon as they are eligible,” she said.