Communities in Southern California and around the nation are remembering the 1 million American lives lost to COVID-19 by lowering flags to half-staff.
Outside public buildings like LA City Hall and other locations, residents can expect to see flags flying at half-staff for several days in honor of those who have died.
Here’s what to know about the solemn gesture.
Why are flags at half staff in Los Angeles?
In Los Angeles, flags were lowered outside City Hall Thursday and other locations in accordance with a proclamation issued by President Biden. The proclamation was issued as public health authorities announced the United States’ COVID death toll had surpassed 1 million people.
The figure is equivalent to the population of San Jose, California, the 10th largest city in the U.S.
“As a Nation, we must not grow numb to such sorrow,” the President’s proclamation states. “To heal, we must remember. We must remain vigilant against this pandemic and do everything we can to save as many lives as possible. In remembrance, let us draw strength from each other as fellow Americans. For while we have been humbled, we never give up. We can and will do this together as the United States of America.”
In February 2021, flags were lowered to half-staff in Los Angeles and elsewhere when the U.S. reached a COVID death toll of 500,000 people.
According to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, the flag should be flown at half-staff when the entire nation is mourning. Those periods of mourning are declared by public officials, like the President or a governor. A policy on the proper times to fly the U.S. flag at half-staff was issued by President Dwight Eisenhower in March 1954.
Where are flags flown at half staff?
The White House proclamation issued Thursday calls of flags to be lowered at “public buildings and grounds, at all military posts and naval stations, and on all naval vessels of the Federal Government in the District of Columbia and throughout the United States.”
How long will flags be flown at half staff?
The White House proclamation calls on flags to be flown at half staff until sunset May 16.
How many people in Los Angeles have died from COVID-19?
Nine deaths due to COVID-19 were reported Thursday, raising Los Angeles County’s death toll to 32,016 people.
Dr. Barbara Ferrer has delivered regular briefings during the pandemic. She began Thursday’s with a moment of silence in honor of the 1 million people in the U.S. who have died from the virus.
“As we mark the very sad reality of losing millions of people across the world to this dangerous virus, I hope we can move forward in these uncertain times with fortitude, courage and compassion and use the tools at hand to take care of not only ourselves and those we love, but those we know are most vulnerable to suffer from this virus,” Ferrer said.
New cases reported Thursday gave the county a cumulative total from throughout the pandemic to 2,903,779.
Worldwide, nearly 15 million deaths associated with COVID-19 have been reported, the World Health Organization estimates. Most of the deaths were in Southeast Asia, Europe and the Americas, according to a WHO report issued earlier this month.