Trump on coronavirus death toll: 'It is what it is'

President TrumpDonald John TrumpBubba Wallace to be driver of Michael Jordan, Denny Hamlin NASCAR team Graham: GOP will confirm Trump's Supreme Court nominee before the election Southwest Airlines, unions call for six-month extension of government aid MORE said the coronavirus death toll “is what it is” during an interview with “Axios on HBO” broadcast late Monday.

The president told Axios’s Jonathan Swan that the COVID-19 pandemic is “under control as much as you can control it” in the U.S. 

“They are dying, that's true. And you have — it is what it is,” Trump said. “But that doesn't mean we aren't doing everything we can. It's under control as much as you can control it. This is a horrible plague.”

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The interview was recorded last Tuesday, before the coronavirus-related death toll in the U.S. surpassed 150,000. The current death toll reached more than 155,000 as of Tuesday morning, according to data from Johns Hopkins UniversityThe U.S. currently has a seven-day average of 1,069 deaths per day, according to New York Times data

At times, the interview turned combative as Swan pointed out the data Trump was referencing measured death as a proportion of cases instead of as a proportion of the population. 

“I’m talking about death as a proportion of population,” Swan said. “That’s where the U.S. is really bad. Much worse than South Korea, Germany, etc.”

“You can’t do that,” Trump responded, prompting Swan to ask, “Why can’t I do that?”

The president maintained that the data should “go by the cases.”

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“It’s surely a relevant statistic to say if the U.S. has X population and X percentage of death of that population vs. South Korea,” Swan said, citing reporting from Seoul showing 300 deaths out of the country's population of 51 million.

“You don’t know that,” Trump responded.

“You think they’re faking their statistics? South Korea?” Swan asked.

“I won’t get into that because I have a very good relationship with the country,” Trump answered. “But you don’t know that, and they have spikes.” 

No experts or international authorities have made serious allegations against the accuracy of South Korea’s coronavirus reporting. 

During the interview, the president also focused on the U.S.’s accomplishments in ventilator production, testing increases and improved treatment that has decreased the total fatality rate. He also repeated the claim that the U.S. has counted more cases because it has conducted more testing.