Grim milestone: 500,000 virus deaths in US

The pandemic death toll has surpassed the number of fatalities in the Civil War, according to the latest data released from John Hopkins University.
4:47 | 02/23/21

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Transcript for Grim milestone: 500,000 virus deaths in US
Good evening and it's great to have you with us here as we start another week together. And we do so this week as we all mark that painful and sobering number. 500,000 American lives now lost to the coronavirus. President Biden just moments ago saying, we must remember each person and the life they lived, noting more Americans have died in a single year in this pandemic than in World War I, World War II and the Vietnam war combined. Tonight, a nation mourns. Bells tolling at the Washington national cathedral. And as we have done for the past year, the awful toll again tonight. So often noting that these are not just numbers, these are lives. More than 500,000 lives lost. That number at this hour, 500,159 lives. And each one of those lives, a parent, a grandparent, brother or sister, a son or daughter. And when we're talking about this kind of number, that's the equivalent of nearly the entire city of Atlanta, gone. More lives lost than those who live in Kansas City or Oakland or Miami or Minneapolis. President Biden addressing the nation just moments ago, saying, I ask all Americans to remember those who we lost, I ask us to act, to remain vigilant, social distance, wear a mask, get a vaccine when it's available, he said. Saying that first responders, the heroes, the families who lost loved ones, they have given us all hope, they are keeping us the president and first lady, Dr. Jill Biden, and the vice president kamala Harris and second gentleman Emhoff observing a moment of silence. And 500 candles lit to mark the 500,000 lives lost. ABC's Eva pilgrim leading us off tonight. Reporter: The bell ringing tonight at the national cathedral in Washington, honoring the more than 500,000 Americans now lost to the coronavirus. One life for almost every minute of last year. At the white house, the president and first lady remembering the victims. As we acknowledge the scale of this mass death in America, we remember each person and the life they lived. They are people we knew, they are people we feel like we knew. Reporter: The president paying tribute to those lives lost. The people we lost were extraordinary. They spanned generations. Born in America, immigrated to America. But just like that, so many of them took their final breath alone in America. Reporter: The staggering loss nearly double what experts estimated last spring. We were saying we could get as high as 240,000 and people were thinking we were being hyperbolic about it and now here we are, with a half a million deaths, just a stunning figure. Reporter: And a reminder of the urgent need to get vaccines into arms. Those 6 million doses delayed by last week's storm now on track to be delivered by the end of the week. There are glimmers of hope. The daily case average has plunged 74% since January. The number of deaths down 38% in the last five days. Still health officials are concerned about con stay use strains. The more contagious south African variant now found in norm has been confirmed in 12 states. Doctors are still scrambling to understand a constantly changing virus. 10% of survivors suffer from chronic symptoms. So called long haulers like Hudson beard who was a healthy seventh grader before getting covid. Three months later, he's struggling with debilitating pain. Last week, Hudson got a chance to ask Dr. Anthony Fauci for help at this lecture. I have constant migraines, severe headaches and I' super dizzy. No other doctors can help me. Can you help? Reporter: Dr. Fauci telling Hudson he hopes his body will fully recover in time, but for now, there are no easy answers. We don't know enough about it, Hudson, for me to honestly tell you what's going to happen over the next couple of months to a year. Reporter: And Eva pilgrim with us live tonight. And Eva, we must remember those who are lost and those who got covid and who are still battling symptoms so many months later, now called the long haulers, of course. There is also news tonight as we come on, the fda releasing new guidance to helps to aim vaccinemakers to work quickly, to update their vaccines if the vir yants prove to be a challenge to the current vaccine makeup? Reporter: That's right, David. The fda is going to follow the current framework it uses for the flu, allowing covid vaccinemakers to turn around their boosters much faster. David? That is encouraging news, as well. Eva, thank you again tonight.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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