- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Congressional leaders will hold a moment of silence on the U.S. Capitol steps late Tuesday as the U.S. death toll from COVID-19 nears 800,000.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and other bipartisan leaders will attend, according to the speaker’s office.

The speaker announced the ceremony while the official toll was just shy of 800,000, according to the Johns Hopkins University COVID-19 data tracker.

With 1,200 to 1,300 Americans dying per day from the virus, the country was on track to reach the sad milestone in short order.

The U.S. death toll is the highest in the world — Brazil, which is second on the list, has recorded 616,000 — but populations differ widely, and some experts doubt that other countries have detailed record-keeping or use the same criteria in determining what is a COVID-19 death.

President Biden held a ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial on the eve of his January inauguration to remember the 400,000 who had died of COVID-19. The death toll has doubled during his tenure.

The country appeared on track to wrangle the pandemic last spring, but a surge of the delta variant over the summer and waning immunity from early vaccinations scrambled the picture and led to more deaths.

Some have faulted areas of the country with low vaccination rates, while others criticized Mr. Biden, who pledged to control the virus, for easing up on mask guidance before the virus was defeated.

Others say at-home testing for the virus should be ubiquitous at this point in the pandemic, instead of piecemeal, and routed through clinics and pharmacies.

For more information, visit The Washington Times COVID-19 resource page.

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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