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Here's what you need to know as Iowa starts a new phase — and marks a new milestone — in responding to the coronavirus pandemic. Des Moines Register

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Iowa joined states across the nation mourning 500,000 Americans who have died due to COVID-19 complications by lowering flags to half-staff.

On Tuesday, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds made the proclamation, which will be in effect until sunset Friday. Flags will be at half-staff at the State Capitol Building and on flag displays in the Capitol Complex, according to a news release. Flags will also be at half-staff on all public buildings, grounds and facilities throughout the state, and Iowans are encouraged to fly their own flags at half-staff "as a sign of respect," the release said.

President Joe Biden on Monday ordered flags on federal property to be lowered through Friday.

“That's more Americans who have died in one year in this pandemic than in World War I, World War II, and the Vietnam War combined," Biden said Monday during remarks in the Cross Hall of the White House before a moment of silence. "That's more lives lost to this virus than any other nation on Earth.”

In Iowa, 5,400 people have died from the pandemic as of Tuesday.

More: Iowa surpasses 5,000 deaths from COVID-19

Flags have been lowered in the past for victims of COVID-19: in May 2020, then-President Donald Trump ordered flags lowered as the nation death total approached 100,000.

The COVID-19 vaccine rollout is continuing nationwide with a priority on people most vulnerable to the virus: those with underlying medical conditions and older Americans. In Iowa, people age 65 and older and people in certain occupations are now eligible to receive the vaccine.

More: When, where can I get a COVID-19 vaccine in Iowa? And other coronavirus questions answered

Robin Opsahl covers trending news for the Register. Reach them at ropsahl@registermedia.com or 515-284-8051.

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