FILE PHOTO: Democratic U.S. presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden is seen at War Memorial Plaza during Memorial Day, amid the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in New Castle, Delaware, U.S. May 25, 2020. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden released a video message on Wednesday marking the grim milestone of 100,000 American lives lost to the coronavirus pandemic, telling the bereaved: “The nation grieves with you.”
Biden spoke after various tallies of COVID-19 deaths, including one compiled by Reuters, showed that the novel coronavirus has killed over 100,000 people in the United States, even as the slowdown in deaths encouraged businesses to reopen and Americans to emerge from more than two months of lockdowns.
Biden, speaking from his home in Delaware, drew on his own family loss when making his remarks. The former vice president’s first wife and infant daughter were killed in a road accident in 1972; Biden’s son Beau died of brain cancer in 2015, aged 46.
“There are moments in our history so grim, so heart-rending, that they’re forever fixed in each of our hearts as shared grief. Today is one of those moments,” Biden said. “To those hurting, I’m so sorry for your loss.”
He added: “I think I know how you’re feeling. You feel like you’re being sucked into a black hole in the middle of your chest. It’s suffocating.”
Biden has been highly critical of Republican President Donald Trump’s pandemic response. In a jab at Trump, Biden cited a recent Columbia University study that said if the federal government had imposed social distancing and lockdown measures just a week earlier, 36,000 lives would have been saved.
“This is a fateful milestone we should not have reached; it could have been avoided,” Biden said. Trump has dismissed the study, calling the university a “liberal, disgraceful institution.”
Reporting by Tim Reid; Editing by Cynthia Osterman