Majority Leader Schumer Floor Remarks On The Tragic Milestone of 500,000 Deaths from COVID-19

February 22, 2021

Washington, D.C.   Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor regarding the tragic loss of 500,000 American lives from the COVID-19. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:

Today, the United States will surpass more than 500,000 deaths from COVID-19. Half a million souls. Half a million souls.

How, as a nation, do we grapple with tragedy that enormous? How do we even comprehend a number that big—or a loss that great?

Do we imagine five of our largest football stadiums, filled to the max, wiped out in an instant? The city of Atlanta or Sacramento, erased overnight? A 9/11 attack, every single day, for 169 days in a row?

They say that a single death is a tragedy, but a million deaths is a statistic. But we must not let this tragic milestone wash over us like just another awful statistic, stacked on top of a year’s worth of awful statistics.

Instead, we must treat this moment as 500,000 individual tragedies: the empty chair at the dinner table, the empty half of the bed at night that people are suffering through. The un-played pianos and uncelebrated birthdays, the funerals that were never held. The neighbors and colleagues and friends and family who died without a chance for their loved ones to hold their hands. The grandchildren, wrapped in protective gear, waving goodbye to grandparents from across the silence of a hospital room.

500,000 American souls – and counting. 

There is no way, no way, to properly account for the loss of so many lives, in so short a time.

But I would ask my fellow Americans to mark this terrible day by doing two simple things.

First, keep in your hearts, in your hearts, the families who have lost a loved one. Reach out to that colleague or friend, offer sympathy, support. Stop for a moment and grieve for your fellow citizens; or for someone you’ve lost personally. We all know someone who is gone. I learned of another one yesterday, another one yesterday.

And second, let us strive to end this pandemic as swiftly as possible. For us in the Congress, that means moving forward with legislation to speed vaccine distribution and help the American people during this time of economic crisis. That’s what the American Rescue plan is all about. But every American can contribute by continuing to follow the guidelines and staying safe, by not losing hope or patience as we round the final corner.

We will—we will—get through this. But today, today, let us mourn the 500,000 Americans we’ve lost, and commit ourselves to a future when the days of these tragic milestones are finally and firmly behind us.

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