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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 Nov 29, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: WHO: AstraZeneca vaccine must be evaluated on "more than a press release."
  2. Politics: McConnell temporarily halts in-person lunches for GOP caucusColorado Governor and partner test positive.
  3. Economy: Safety nets to disappear in DecemberAmazon hires 1,400 workers a day throughout pandemic.
  4. Education: U.S. public school enrollment drops as pandemic persists.
  5. Cities: Surge in cases forces San Francisco to impose curfew — Los Angeles County issues stay-at-home order, limits gatherings.
  6. Sports: NFL bans in-person team activities Monday as crisis engulfs league, Tuesday due to COVID-19 surge — NBA announces new coronavirus protocols.
  7. World: London police arrest more than 150 during anti-lockdown protests — Thailand, Philippines sign deal with AstraZeneca for vaccine.

The social media addiction bubble

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Right now, everyone from Senate leaders to the makers of Netflix's popular "Social Dilemma" is promoting the idea that Facebook is addictive.

Yes, but: Human beings have raised fears about the addictive nature of every new media technology since the 18th century brought us the novel, yet the species has always seemed to recover its balance once the initial infatuation wears off.

Young people's next big COVID test

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Young, healthy people will be at the back of the line for coronavirus vaccines, and they'll have to maintain their sense of urgency as they wait their turn — otherwise, vaccinations won't be as effective in bringing the pandemic to a close.

The big picture: "It’s great young people are anticipating the vaccine," said Jewel Mullen, associate dean for health equity at the University of Texas. But the prospect of that enthusiasm waning is "a cause for concern," she said.