As the US surpassed 500,000 coronavirus-related deaths on Monday, President Joe Biden directed that the US flag be flown at half-staff through sundown Friday.
The rate of coronavirus deaths has increased in recent months. Half of the 500,000 deaths have occurred in the last three months.
From the White House, Biden addressed the nation on Monday.
"As a nation, we can't accept such a cruel fate,” Biden said. “We've been fighting this pandemic for so long. We have to resist becoming numb to the sorrow. We have to resist viewing each life as a statistic or a blur or on the news. We must do so to honor the dead, but equally important care for the living, those they left behind. For the loved ones left behind."
Biden then joined his wife Jill Biden along with Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff for a moment of silence outside of the White House.
Earlier on Monday, the National Cathedral rang 500 church bells, one for every 1,000 Americans who died from the coronavirus since early last year.
At the start of his presidency, Biden called on Americans to wear a mask and socially distance for the first 100 days of his administration. In the five weeks since his inauguration, cases have seen a steep decline.
As of Monday, 44 million Americans, representing 13% of the US population, have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine.