More than 200,000 Americans have now died of the coronavirus

The United States on Tuesday passed 200,000 coronavirus deaths, a grim reminder of the human toll COVID-19 has taken as the country tries to reopen its schools and the broader economy.

According to data from Johns Hopkins University, at least 200,005 Americans have died from coronavirus-related complications while there have been more than 6.5 million confirmed cases of the virus reported in the United States — far more cases and deaths than in any other country in the world.

Worldwide, there have been more than 31 million coronavirus cases and nearly 1 million deaths. Experts though say the actual figures are most certainly higher.

The grim milestone comes just 42 days before the U.S. presidential election. A Yahoo News/YouGov poll found that a majority of voters (57 percent) disapproved of President Trump’s handling of the coronavirus. Trump’s halting response has come under increased scrutiny amid revelations that the president intentionally downplayed the threat in the first months of the year.

Trump recently claimed that he sought to downplay the threat of the virus in order to “reduce panic.” He continued to do so for months, even as cases and deaths soared.

In late March, members of the White House coronavirus task force projected between 100,000 and 200,000 American deaths if U.S. citizens practiced social distancing guidelines “almost perfectly.” Yet Trump, who has predicted that the virus will eventually “disappear,” repeatedly suggested that the U.S. might still avoid a six-digit death toll. 

He has since taken to claiming the country would have lost millions of lives were it not for his efforts. 

Asked to grade to his administration’s response to the pandemic on Monday, the president was unequivocal.

“We take an A-plus,” Trump said on “Fox & Friends” Monday. “We’ve done a phenomenal job. Not just a good job, a phenomenal job.”

Meanwhile, a new forecast released by researchers at the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) estimates that an additional 220,000 Americans could die of COVID-19 by the end of 2020, potentially bringing the U.S. total death toll to more than 400,000.

But Trump — who has cast himself as the country’s “cheerleader” in chief — continues to downplay the threat while railing against local governments’ lockdown measures. 

On “Fox & Friends,” Trump reiterated his view that the coronavirus “is rounding the turn, rounding the corner” — with or without a vaccine.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious diseases expert, disagreed. He warned that Americans will need to “hunker down” for fall and winter, particularly as the weather gets colder and more people are forced indoors.

“We are entering into a risk period,” Fauci said in an interview with Dr. Sanjay Gupta on Tuesday.

When asked to grade the administration’s response, Fauci demurred.

“They don’t need a sound byte from me,” he said, adding: “Just look at the numbers.”

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