As coronavirus deaths in the United States near 200,000, President Donald Trump attempted to defend his administration's response to the pandemic. Speaking at a press briefing on Wednesday, the president claimed that if you excluded "blue states," the nation's COVID-19 numbers would look much better than they currently do and would fare better in comparison to other countries.
With the U.S. experiencing approximately 60 coronavirus deaths for every 100,000 people, according to Johns Hopkins data, those numbers among the highest rates in the world, Trump argued the nation is handling the pandemic well "despite the fact that the blue states had had tremendous death rates." USA Today reports that he went on to claim that "if you take the blue states out, we're at a level that I don't think anybody in the world would be at," explaining that "we're at a very low level." The president added, "but some of the states, they were blue states and blue state-managed."
As both ABC News and Vox point out, however, his remarks were not entirely true. While the Democratic-led states of New York, California, and New Jersey were among the states with the highest number of deaths, Republican-led states Texas and Florida also rank in the top five. The invalidity of the president's remarks is even more apparent when dividing states based on their 2016 votes for president, which finds 11 of the top 20 states for COVID-19 deaths went for Trump. Vox also points out that while blue states were among the hardest hit initially, the resurgence of cases hit red states hard, too, and some individual states, both red and blue, would be among the top globally in terms of deaths per capita.
The president's remarks, for which he did not offer any evidence to support them, have drawn swift criticism from Democrats. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, speaking from the Senate floor Thursday, called the president "demented," stating that "if you close your eyes and pretend that half of the country doesn't exist, some might think you didn't do such a spectacularly awful job." The Democratic National Committee, in a tweet, said that "Trump continues to politicize the coronavirus," adding that "COVID isn't a red state or blue state issue. 9 of the 10 states with the most infections per capita have Republican governors. This virus has impacted all Americans."
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden responded to Trump's remarks on Thursday, tweeting, "The job is to be president of all Americans. For the love of God, start acting like it."