Trump to lower flags over Memorial Day weekend to honor coronavirus victims

The move comes after Democratic leaders sent a letter to the president asking him to lower flags when the U.S. coronavirus death toll reaches 100,000.
Image: Nancy Pelosi Chuck Schumer
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer lead fellow Congressional Democrats out of the White House following a meeting with President Donald Trump on April 30, 2019.Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images file

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By Rebecca Shabad

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said in a tweet on Thursday that he will be ordering flags on federal buildings and monuments nationwide to fly at half-staff over the Memorial Day weekend to honor those who have died from the novel coronavirus.

Trump also said the flags will be lowered at half-staff on Memorial Day to honor veterans.

"I will be lowering the flags on all Federal Buildings and National Monuments to half-staff over the next three days in memory of the Americans we have lost to the CoronaVirus," he said in a tweet. "On Monday, the flags will be at half-staff in honor of the men and women in our Military who have made the Ultimate Sacrifice for our Nation."

The move comes after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., sent a letter to the president Thursday requesting that flags be lowered at half-staff on public buildings nationwide when the U.S. coronavirus death toll reaches 100,000.

In a letter to the president, the two Democratic leaders noted that Monday is Memorial Day, when the country honors service members who made the ultimate sacrifice.

“We will always carry their memory in our hearts,” they wrote. “As we pay our respects to them, sadly, our country mourns the deaths of nearly 100,000 Americans from COVID-19. Our hearts are broken over this great loss and our prayers are with their families.”

Their request comes as the U.S. death toll has surpassed 95,000.

“Respectful of them and the loss to our country, we are writing to request that you order flags to be flown at half-staff on all public buildings in our country on the sad day of reckoning when we reach 100,000 deaths," they continued. "It would serve as a national expression of grief so needed by everyone in our country.”

There have been 328,000 deaths from the disease caused by the coronavirus worldwide, and global cases of COVID-19 topped 5 million early Thursday, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Trump would have to make the order through a presidential proclamation. It’s unclear whether he would do so since he and the Democratic leaders have clashed over the response to the pandemic.

Pelosi also took aim at the president’s physical appearance this week in response to his decision to take the drug hydroxychloroquine.

“I would rather he not be taking something that has not been approved by the scientists, especially in his age group and in his, shall we say, weight group, morbidly obese, they say,” Pelosi said.

Elaborating on the comment Wednesday, Pelosi told reporters, “I gave him a dose of his own medicine. He's called women one thing or another over time, and I thought he thinks that passes off as humor in certain cultures, and I thought that was what that was.”

The FDA issued a warning last month that cautioned against the use of the medicine outside of a hospital setting or a clinical trial due to risk of heart rhythm problems.

Dartunorro Clark contributed.