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The toll was mostly a number for weeks after Cindy Pollock started to plant tiny flags around her yard, one for each of the more than 1800 Idahoans killed by COVID-19.

Until two women she’d never met rang her doorbell in tears, looking for a place to mourn the father and husband they had just lost.

Then Pollock knew her tribute would never begin to express the sorrow of a pandemic that has now taken nearly 500,000 lives and counting in the US, however heartfelt.

She said, “I just wanted to hug them,” “Because that was all I could do.”

The pandemic has just reached a landmark that once seemed impossible, a reminder of the virus’s reach into all parts of the world and populations of every size and makeup, after a year that has darkened doorways around the US.

The count at Johns Hopkins University said that on Monday, the US exceeded 500,000 coronavirus deaths (local time).

With a moment of silence and a candle lighting ceremony at the White House, President Joe Biden marked the harrowing landmark.

Mr. Biden, accompanied by First Lady Jill Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, and Second Lady Doug Emhoff, took part in a moment of silence.

It was a “truly grim, heartbreaking milestone.” Mr Biden said.

Mr. Biden urged Americans to avoid being “numb to the sorrow” and “viewing each life as a statistic.” He said “extraordinary.” was the missing people.

The President of the United States often alluded to his personal tragedy of losing his first wife and baby daughter in a car crash and then losing an adult son due to brain cancer.

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“It’s very hard for me to imagine an American who doesn’t know someone who has died or have a family member who has died,”It’s very difficult for me to imagine an American who doesn’t know someone who has died or who has a family member who has died.

“We haven’t really fully understood how bad it is, how devastating it is, for all of us.”

Experts warn that, amid a huge effort to vaccinate individuals, more than 100,000 more deaths are likely in the next few months. Meanwhile, the tragedy of the country continues to accrue in a manner unprecedented in recent American life, said Donna Schuurman of Portland, Oregon’s Dougy Centre for Mourning Children & Families.

Americans have pulled together to confront disasters and console survivors at other times of epic loss, including the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Yet the country is profoundly divided this time around. Death, extreme disease and financial distress are being dealt with by staggering numbers of families. And many are left in solitude to cope, unable to even hold funerals.

Ms Schuurman, who has represented the families of those killed in terrorist attacks, natural disasters and school shootings, said, “In a way, we’re all grieving,”

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