(WASHINGTON, D.C.) — Over half a day following the news that U.S. deaths due to COVID-19 surpassed 100,000, President Donald Trump broke his silence on the death toll, calling it a “very sad milestone” in a Thursday morning tweet.
“We have just reached a very sad milestone with the coronavirus pandemic deaths reaching 100,000. To all of the families & friends of those who have passed, I want to extend my heartfelt sympathy & love for everything that these great people stood for & represent,” the president tweeted. “God be with you!”
President Trump’s reaction is a change of course from his earlier statements when COVID-19 was first reported in the nation. As the first deaths came in, the president likened the coronavirus to “a very bad flu” and suggested deaths would remain minimal.
In April, the president maintained that deaths would not surpass 100,000.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany appeared on Fox News on Thursday, asserting that the president “took action” far in advance and mitigated the death toll.
“Because of this president, we stayed far below that 2.2 million estimate that was initially out there,” said McEnany, referencing earlier projections that warned that not following social distancing guidelines could lead to catastrophe.
She added, “The extraordinary effort of the administration, the work of the American people helped to keep this from being much worse than it could have been.”
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