Trump marks 'very sad milestone' of 100K coronavirus deaths

President TrumpDonald John TrumpKimberly Guilfoyle reports being asymptomatic and 'feeling really pretty good' after COVID-19 diagnosis Biden says he will rejoin WHO on his first day in office Lincoln Project offers list of GOP senators who 'protect' Trump in new ad MORE on Thursday morning said that the United States had reached a “very sad milestone” in exceeding 100,000 deaths due to the novel coronavirus, expressing sympathy for those who have lost loved ones.

“We have just reached a very sad milestone with the coronavirus pandemic deaths reaching 100,000,” Trump tweeted. “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. God be with you!”

The COVID-19 death toll passed 100,000 Wednesday evening, as Trump was returning to Washington from a trip to Florida where he had been supposed to celebrate a historic rocket launch, which was postponed due to inclement weather.

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Trump’s tweet Thursday marked his first reaction to the country reaching the grim milestone, a development that dominated news headlines overnight.

Trump has periodically focused on the projected death toll due to the coronavirus, arguing his handling of the public health crisis has saved hundreds of thousands of lives as his administration has come under scrutiny for its response to the virus and he has been criticized for minimizing it at the outset.  

Trump has repeatedly pointed to figures projecting that between 1.5 million and 2 million Americans would have died without the country implementing social distancing recommendations laid out by the White House.

Trump, guided by a model followed by the White House, earlier expressed hope the U.S. could keep the death toll around 60,000, but he was forced to adjust up his predictions as it mounted in recent weeks.

He acknowledged earlier this week that the death toll would exceed 100,000 but slammed “political hacks” for criticizing his response to the pandemic, arguing his decision to restrict travel from China saved American lives.  

A study by Columbia University released last week found that the U.S. could have prevented roughly 36,000 deaths from the coronavirus through early May if social distancing and stay-at-home orders had been implemented earlier. Trump called the university a “liberal, disgraceful institution” when asked about the study in an interview over the weekend.