US President Joe Biden on Monday mourned the more than 500,000 Americans lost to the coronavirus pandemic.

Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris held a candle-lighting ceremony and a moment of silence for the victims at the White House after Biden gave personal remarks on the “truly grim, heartbreaking milestone” of surpassing 500,000 deaths.

Earlier, Biden ordered flags on federal land be lowered to half-staff for the next five days to mark the grim milestone.

“As a nation, we can’t accept such a cruel fate. While we have been fighting this pandemic for so long, we have to resist becoming numb to the sorrow. We have to resist viewing each life as a statistic or a blur or on the news. We must do so to honor the dead but, equally important, care for the living, for those left behind,” the President said in his remarks, according to The Hill.

Biden noted at the outset of his address that he carries a card every day that shows him the number of Americans who have died from COVID-19. He also referenced correspondence with Americans impacted by the virus, including a man he met on a trip to Michigan last week whose father-in-law was dying from COVID-19.

Biden urged Americans to keep up the practices of social distancing and mask wearing in order to prevent the further spread of the virus at a time when cases are declining but remain high across the country.

“Today I ask all Americans to remember, remember those we lost, those we left behind. But as we all remember, I also ask us to act, to remain vigilant, to stay socially distant, to mask up. Get vaccinated when it’s your turn,” Biden said. “We must end the politics and misinformation that has divided families, communities and the country and has cost too many lives already. It’s not Democrats and Republicans who are dying from the virus; it’s our fellow Americans.”

“We have to fight this together, as one people, as the United States of America. That is the only way we are going to beat this virus,” he continued. “Let this not be a story of how far we fell but of how far we climbed up.”