NEW YORK Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago is encouraging Catholics to “not let one day go by without a prayer of remembrance for the millions across the globe” already lost to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The statement on Monday comes on the same day the COVID-19 death toll in the United States passed 500,000 people, by far the most in the world. 

“Let us do one thing each day in memory of these pandemic victims,” Cupich said. “Call someone living in isolation. Support and volunteer at organizations that feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, protect the vulnerable and visit the imprisoned.” 

“Honor these members of our human family and the sacred dignity of all human life by doing our part to break the back of this contagion: Wear a mask, keep your distance and avoid gatherings. That is the least we can do. And for God’s sake and our own take the COVID vaccine to protect your and everyone’s life,” he continued. 

Earlier in the night, President Joe Biden addressed the nation from the White House.  

The 46th president reflected on the lives lost to the COVID-19 pandemic, called on Americans to come together to fight the virus, and reiterated a message he gave the nation from the National Mall Reflecting Pool last month after the death count reached 400,000. That, “to heal, we must remember.” 

“For those who have lost loved ones, this is what I know: They’re never truly gone. They’ll always be a part of your heart,” Biden said. 

“The day will come when the memory of the loved one you lost will bring a smile to your lips before a tear to your eye. It will come. I promise you. My prayer for you though is that day will come sooner rather than later and that’s when you know you’re going to be okay.” 

At the same time, the president also emphasized the importance of unity. 

“But as we all remember, I also ask us to act. To remain vigilant, to stay socially distanced, to mask up, get vaccinated when it’s your turn. We must end the politics and misinformation that has divided families, communities, and the country, and has cost too many lives already,” Biden said. “We have to fight together, as one people, as the United States of America.” 

The president opened his address with an insight into his day. Each day, Biden said, he carries a small card in his pocket with the number of Americans who have been infected or died from COVID-19, which Monday he said read 500,071. 

“That’s more Americans who have died in one year in this pandemic than World War One, World War Two, and the Vietnam War combined. That’s more lives lost to this virus than any other nation on earth,” Biden noted. 

He concluded with words of encouragement, saying that “this nation will smile again. This nation will know sunny days again. This nation will know joy again.” 

After his remarks Biden made his way down to the White House South Portico that was covered in 500 candles to honor the 500,000 lives lost. He was joined by first lady Jill Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband Douglas for a moment of silence through a rendition of Amazing Grace.

Follow John Lavenburg on Twitter: @johnlavenburg