WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden mourned “the painful milestone” of 700,000 American deaths from COVID-19, a day after the U.S. surpassed that mark on Friday.

The president says in a statement “the astonishing death toll is yet another reminder of just how important it is to get vaccinated.” He says the nation has “made extraordinary progress” in the fight against the coronavirus in the past eight months because of vaccines.

Biden says thanks to vaccines, “hundreds of thousands of families have been spared the unbearable loss that too many Americans have already endured during this pandemic.”

He notes more than three-quarters of all Americans age 12 and up have received at least one vaccine dose, including nearly 94% of all seniors.

Biden says: “If you haven’t already, please get vaccinated. It can save your life and the lives of those you love. It will help us beat COVID-19 and move forward, together, as one nation.”

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