Even as the nation sees a gradual decrease in the death rate caused by the coronavirus, the pandemic continues to kill hundreds of Americans each day, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
With the total death toll approaching 100,000, President Donald Trump is now ordering all federal buildings to lower their flags to half-mast ahead of Memorial Day in honor those lost to the pandemic.
“A national expression of grief”
The president tweeted Thursday:
….On Monday, the flags will be at half-staff in honor of the men and women in our Military who have made the Ultimate Sacrifice for our Nation.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 21, 2020
According to USA Today, the idea appears to stem from a letter Trump received earlier this week from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY).
They specifically mentioned the tragic milestone of 100,000 deaths as an appropriate moment to lower flags “as a national expression of grief so needed by everyone in our country.”
The number of coronavirus-related deaths in the U.S. was at roughly 95,500 as of Friday afternoon, according to a tracker from Johns Hopkins University.
“As we pay our respects to them, sadly, our country mourns the deaths of nearly 100,000 Americans from COVID-19,” Pelosi and Schumer wrote, according to USA Today. “Our hearts are broken over this great loss and our prayers are with their families.”
“We share in the suffering”
The president, governors, and the mayor of Washington, D.C., are permitted to issue proclamations that flags be flown at half-mast, specifically when “the nation or a state is in mourning,” according to USA.gov.
“Most often, this is done to mark the death of a government official, military member, or first responder; in honor of Memorial Day or other national day of remembrance; or following a national tragedy,” the government site explains.
In his proclamation, Trump wrote that the nation “mourns for every life lost to the coronavirus pandemic, and we share in the suffering of all those who endured pain and illness from the outbreak.” He went on to assert that America “stands steadfast and united against the invisible enemy.”
Even as the nation’s leaders remain deeply divided over the most appropriate response to the health and economic crises brought on by COVID-19, it might be some comfort to know that the parties can at least unite in memorializing those Americans who have died because of it.