The US is on track to top 500,000 deaths from Covid-19 – the most for any country in the world – on Monday.
It comes just over a year after the first infection of the novel coronavirus, first detected in China, was recorded on the US west coast.
The grim milestone will be marked by a candle-lighting ceremony and moment of silence at the White House. President Joe Biden will also deliver remarks.
More than 28.1 million Americans have been infected – another global record.
The number of Americans who have had the coronavirus is nearly double that of second-highest India (11 million) and Brazil (10.1 million). Brazil has recorded the second-largest death toll at 244,000 while Mexico is in third with 178,000.
“People decades from now are going to be talking about this as a terribly historic milestone in the history of this country, to have these many people to have died from a respiratory-borne infection,” the nation’s top immunologist, Dr Anthony Fauci, told CNN on Sunday.
At least 90,000 more Americans are expected to be killed by 1 June, according to a recent projection from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME).
The IHME estimates that by late May, the virus will kill around 500 Americans per day – down from approximately 2,000 daily deaths now.
Hospital admission rates have fallen for 40 straight days, as approximately 1.6 million vaccinations are administered to Americans daily.
Despite the improving figures, Americans’ life expectancy has dropped by one full year due to the coronavirus, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said last week. The change has been most acute among racial minorities, who have been disproportionally affected by the deadly virus.
Black men suffered the largest decline, with life expectancy dropping by three years between January and June 2020.
And Hispanic men saw a fall in life expectancy of 2.4 years during that period.
How is the US death toll being marked?
At the White House, President Biden will be accompanied by his wife Jill, as well as Vice-President Kamala Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff.
They will gather at the building’s South Portico for a candle-lighting ceremony, which will take place just after sunset. Mr Biden will also deliver remarks and a moment of silence will be held for the victims of the pandemic.
Mr Biden’s approach to the pandemic is different to his predecessor Donald Trump, who cast doubt on the impact of the deadly virus and was viewed as having politicised the wearing of masks and other measures to prevent the spread of the virus.
White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said on Monday that Mr Biden will ask all Americans to join the moment of silence and will also order all flags on federal property to be lowered to half-staff for the next five days.
His remarks, she said, will “highlight the magnitude of loss that this milestones marks for the American people and American families across the country”.
“He will speak to the power of the American people to turn the tide on this pandemic by working together, following public health guidelines and getting in line to be vaccinated as soon as they are eligible,” she said.
On 19 January, one day before Mr Biden took office, he held an event to mark 400,000 Americans dying of the disease.
“To heal, we must remember, and it’s hard sometimes to remember, but that’s how we heal,” he said from the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC.
“Between sundown and dusk, let us shine the lights in the darkness along the sacred pool of reflection, and remember all whom we lost,” he said less than one month ago.