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Congress holds candlelight vigil for American lives lost to COVID-19

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Congress holds candlelight vigil for American lives lost to COVID-19
House and Senate leadership hold a moment of silence for the more than 500,000 American lives lost to COVID-19 at the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday. Photo by Leigh Vogel/UPI | License Photo

Feb. 23 (UPI) -- Congress held a candlelight vigil and a moment of silence on Tuesday to honor the more than 500,000 Americans who have died of COVID-19.

With lit candles in hand from the steps of Congress, the lawmakers stood as a sole voice sang Take My Hand, Precious Lord and the night set in above them.

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When the song finished, the masked bipartisan leaders of the two chambers of Congress led the other lawmakers in bowing their heads and holding a moment in silence for those who have died to COVID-19.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., performed the sign of the cross while standing beside Congressional leaders including Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

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The sole voice then rose up again in song, singing God Bless America, and was joined by the American lawmakers.

The ceremony came a day after the U.S. death toll to the pandemic that began late in 2019 surpassed the grim 500,000-milestone. By late Tuesday, it stood at 502,517, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University.

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"Over 500,000 Americans have died during the pandemic. I took part in a candlelight vigil tonight to honor and remember them," Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., said via Twitter. "To everyone who has lost someone, my heart goes out to you in this tragic time."

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President Joe Biden had also held a moment of silence for the lives lost on Monday and ordered flags at the White House to fly at half-staff to mark the "grim, heartbreaking" milestone.

The candlelit vigil on Tuesday was held as Congress debates a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package.

Pelosi said in a statement Tuesday that the House is preparing to pass the American Rescue Plan this week.

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