President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris are slated to speak from the Lincoln Memorial in Washington on Tuesday as part of a ceremony honoring victims of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The event is set to begin at 5:30 p.m. EST, on the eve of Biden’s inauguration, and will include the first-ever lighting of the Lincoln Memorial’s reflecting pool, according to Biden’s inaugural team.
Everyone is encouraged to participate by lighting candles in their windows, the inaugural committee said in a statement. The committee has also called on leaders nationwide to light up city buildings in a light amber color and ring church bells.
“We invite Americans across the country to come together for a national moment of unity and remembrance,” the committee said in its statement.
Biden is expected to leave Wilmington, Delaware, for Washington on Tuesday afternoon. He had originally planned to take an Amtrak train to the nation’s capital, but his team scrapped the move, citing security concerns.
The U.S. continues to lead the world in recorded COVID-19 cases and deaths, with more than 24 million people infected and at least 399,000 dead. Some public health experts have in part blamed President Donald Trump’s divisive rhetoric on coronavirus mitigation measures for the virus’ rampant spread.
Biden has released a lengthy plan for combatting COVID-19 and recently set a goal of administering 100 million COVID-19 vaccinations in the first 100 days of his presidency.
For months, activists have been calling for a national day of mourning for COVID-19 victims. National observances ― such as Veterans Day and Hispanic Heritage Month ― are typically enacted by Congress, after which the president issues a proclamation on that day each year and local governments may also hold dedicated ceremonies or events.
Rep. Donald Payne Jr. (D-N.J.) introduced a resolution in the House in November calling for such a national day of mourning for COVID-19 victims. The legislation specifically outlines the disproportionate infection rates and deaths among communities of color.
Biden’s transition team did not respond to a request for comment about a potential national day of mourning.
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