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

Oct 23, 2020 - Health

U.S. hits highest daily COVID-19 case count since pandemic began

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COVID Tracking Project

The U.S. confirmed at least 83,010 coronavirus cases on Friday, the country's highest daily total since the pandemic started, according to data from the COVID Tracking Project.

By the numbers: Friday's total surpassed the U.S.'s previous record set on July 17 when 76,842 cases were recorded. 

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Early voting eclipses 2016 total with 9 days until election

People stand in line to vote early in Fairfax, Virginia in September. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Americans have cast more than 58.6 million ballots in the 2020 presidential election, surpassing the total early-vote count for 2016 with 9 days left until Election Day, according to an AP tally.

Why it matters: The election is already underway, as many states have expanded early and mail-in voting options because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

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  2. Health: 13 states set single-day coronavirus case records last week — Fauci says maybe we should mandate masks if people don't wear themU.S. reports over 80,000 new cases for second consecutive day.
  3. World: Italy tightens restrictions Spain declares new state of emergency.