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President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference at the White House, Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2020, in Washington.

AP Photo/Evan Vucci

  • US President Donald Trump on Monday praised his reponse to COVID-19, noting that nearly 200,000 dead Americans was fewer than the 2.2 million one model projected if no mitigating action were taken at state or federal level.
  • Trump said the death toll would be even lower if it excluded states run by Democrats.
  • "The blue states had tremendous death rates," he said. "If you take the blue states out, we are at a level I don't think anybody in the world would be at."
  • In fact, two of the top five states reporting the most COVID-19 deaths are run by Republicans: Florida and Texas.
  • More than 400,000 Americans could be dead by the end of the year, according to one model.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

US President Donald Trump praised his response to the coronavirus pandemic on Wednesday, defining success as nearly 200,000 dead Americans — up from the 60,000 he predicted in April, and the 100,000 he predicted in May — and argued the death toll would be lower if it excluded the most densely populated, "blue" states.

Speaking to reporters Wednesday, Trump stood before a chart of one of the earliest, most dire death toll projections: 2.2 million people in the US killed by COVID-19, provided that no federal or state action were taken to mitigate the threat.

"That's quite a difference: two million," Trump said, as reported by Mediate.

He also pointed to the fact that the current US death toll, of just over 196,000, is within the range of 100,000 and 240,000 total deaths that White House officials circulated earlier in the year.

But the pandemic is far from over. The US Centers for Disease Control projects that as many as 217,000 people will be dead by Oct. 3. Researchers at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, which CBS News observes has been cited by the White House, predicts the death toll could be over 400,000 by year's end.

While casting 196,000 deaths as better than the best-case scenario, Trump also deflected blame for that toll from himself and the Republican Party. The tally would be even lower, he argued, if one excluded states with Democratic governors.

"The blue states had tremendous death rates," he said. "If you take the blue states out, we are at a level I don't think anybody in the world would be at."

In fact, two of the top five states reporting the most COVID-19 deaths are run by Republicans: Florida and Texas. Both states were once heralded as conservative models for responding to the pandemic, having loosened restrictions early on in the crisis before experiencing a spike in cases.

A recent study found the easiest way to reduce the US death toll would have been to implement a national mask mandate for public-facing businesses. If such a mandate had been adopted, researchers at MIT found, it would have reduced US fatalities by up to 55,000 from April to June alone.

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