President Trump said in a press conference Wednesday that the U.S. coronavirus death toll is "very low ... if you take the blue states out," while defending the nation's response to the pandemic compared to other countries around the world.

Why it matters: Of the top five states with the largest death tolls from the virus, three have Democratic governors, suggesting there is little relation between the spread of the virus and the political parties of state leaders.

Of note: It is unclear precisely what Trump's definition of a "blue state" is, nor did he offer specifics to back up his claim that blue states managed the virus at all differently from red states.

What he's saying: "If you take the blue states out," he continued, "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, but some of the states — they were blue states, and blue-state management."

  • He then went after states' reopening strategies, saying: "By the way, we'd recommend they open up their states. It's hurting people far more than the disease itself."

The other side: "Trump continues to politicize the coronavirus," the Democratic National Committee tweeted. "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."

The big picture: New York (D), New Jersey (D), Texas (R), California (D) and Florida (R) have to date reported the highest number of deaths from the virus in the U.S., according to Johns Hopkins University.

  • These are the states with the largest populations in the country.
  • "But red states and battlegrounds, such as Louisiana, Mississippi, Arizona and Michigan were also in the top ten," USA notes.
  • Meanwhile, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced last week that the state's coronavirus infection rate has remained below 1% for 30 days and COVID-19 hospitalizations have dropped to 410 — the lowest since March 16. The state, once a coronavirus epicenter, is curbing the spread of the virus, even as restrictions ease.
  • To date, the U.S. has reported 196,485 deaths associated with COVID-19, JHU reports.

What to watch via the Washington Post: "The University of Washington’s Institute on Health Metrics estimates that there will be nearly 413,000 deaths by the end of the year.

  • "Of that total, almost precisely half are projected to have occurred in red states."

Go deeper

Updated 16 hours ago - Health

U.S. coronavirus updates

Expand chart
Data: The COVID Tracking Project; Note: Does not include probable deaths from New York City; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Some 90,000 New York City children in pre-K and those with advanced disabilities went back to school for in-person classes on Monday.

The big picture: All other students in the city resumed classes online. Elementary schools are due to open on Sept. 29, with middle schools and high schools following on Oct. 1.

21 hours ago - Health

U.K. upgrades COVID alert level as Europe sees worrying rise in infections

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves Downing Street on Sept. 21. Photo: Leon Neal/Getty Images

The U.K. could see up to 50,000 coronavirus cases per day by mid-October if current growth continues, top scientific advisers warned in a televised address from Downing Street on Monday.

The big picture: The U.K. has upgraded its coronavirus alert level from three to four as infections appear to be "high or rising exponentially." Meanwhile, recent European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) data shows that over half of all European Union countries are seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 11:45 a.m. ET: 31,374,796 — Total deaths: 965,742— Total recoveries: 21,531,728Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 10 a.m. ET: 6,860,484 — Total deaths: 200,005 — Total recoveries: 2,615,9474 — Total tests: 95,841,281Map.
  3. Health: The U.S. reaches 200,000 coronavirus deaths. The CDC's crumbling reputation — America turns against coronavirus vaccine.
  4. Politics: Elected officials are failing us on much-needed stimulus.
  5. Business: Two-thirds of business leaders think pandemic will lead to permanent changes — Wall Street fears stimulus is doomed.
  6. Sports: NFL fines maskless coaches.

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