Trump orders US flags lowered to half-mast for virus victims

Trump agrees with Democrats to lower flags for the next three days. (AP pic)

WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump on Thursday ordered US flags to be lowered to half-mast for three days in honour of Americans who have died from coronavirus.

The announcement came as the US Covid-19 death toll approaches the 100,000 mark and follows calls by Democrats to lower the flag when it reaches that grim milestone.

“I will be lowering the flags on all Federal Buildings and National Monuments to half-mast over the next three days in memory of the Americans we have lost to the coronavirus,” Trump tweeted.

The Republican president added that flags would remain at half-mast on Monday for the country’s Memorial Day, honouring those who have died while serving in the US military.

While US daily death tolls are no longer on a steady incline, the losses are still mounting, with the total count in the US above 94,500 – by far the nation with the most deaths in the world.

The Memorial Day weekend will likely coincide with the country reaching 100,000 Covid-19 deaths.

Earlier in the day, top Democrats said flying the flags at half-mast upon reaching the 100,000 mark would reflect a “national expression of grief.”

“Our hearts are broken over this great loss,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer wrote in a letter to the president.

The pair said it would be fitting to pay respects to victims of the crisis while honouring the nation’s military heroes.

The US has averaged nearly 1,300 coronavirus deaths per day this week.