“The blue states had tremendous death rates,” Trump said at a Wednesday press conference on the pandemic. “If you take the blue states out, we’re at a level that I don’t think anybody in the world would be at, we’re really at a very low level.”
He told North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Michigan to “open up their states,” saying that keeping businesses closed to prevent the spread of the virus is “hurting people far more than the disease itself.” The president added that “the vulnerable are primarily people with medical problems… who are older… so open up your states.”
It’s worth noting that there have been significant deaths from coronavirus in states across the country, regardless of their governors’ political affiliation. In fact, four out of the top 10 states with the highest number of COVID-19 deaths are led by Republican governors: Texas, Florida, Massachusetts and Georgia.
The U.S. continues to lead the world with more than 6.6 million confirmed coronavirus cases. In the first months of the coronavirus’s spread in the U.S., Trump repeatedly downplayed the threat of the virus and then urged states to reopen businesses, flouting health experts’ recommendations.
#COVID19 cases declined in most states in the last 7 days, but COVID-19 is widespread in many areas, particularly in the upper Great Plains, Midwest, and South. Six states reported over 10,000 new cases in the last week. See more data: https://t.co/CEcelDa6Hb. pic.twitter.com/564xEJy0BO— CDC (@CDCgov) September 16, 2020
Trump has similarly politicized his response to natural disasters: As California faced devastating fires in recent weeks, the president slammed the state, led by a Democratic governor, for doing a poor job with forest management and threatened to withhold federal relief funds. Meanwhile, as Hurricane Laura approached red states along the Gulf of Mexico, Trump stood ready to assist.
On Wednesday, the president insisted that the U.S. was doing “a really good job” when it came to coronavirus deaths.
“If you look at all that we’ve done and all the lives that we’ve saved,” Trump said, indicating a chart labeled as showing initial projections of the possible number of deaths. “This was right at the beginning, this was our prediction, that if we do a really good job, we do 100-240,000 deaths. And we’re below that substantially. And that’d be if you do the good job. If the not-so-good job was done, you’d be at 1.5 million. That’s quite a difference.”
More than 196,000 Americans have died of COVID-19 so far, and cases continue to increase.
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This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.