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President Donald Trump stops and answers questions from reporters en route to Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House on September 22 in Washington. Drew Angerer / Getty Images

Asked Tuesday about the coronavirus death toll reaching 200,000 in the United States, President Donald Trump said: “Well, I think it’s a shame.”

After ignoring a question from CNN’s Nikki Carvajal about his message to the American people, Trump was pressed to cross the 200,000-dead threshold and turned the conversation to his standard response on the virus, blaming China and saying the number of deaths could have been a lot worse if he hadn’t taken action.

“I think if we didn’t do it right and do it right, you would have two and a half million deaths. If you take a look at alternatives, you could have two and a half million dead or something like that. You could have a much higher number, ”Trump told reporters before leaving the White House on Tuesday. “And you saw my United Nations speech, China should have stopped it at their border. They should never have let this spread all over the world and that is a terrible thing.

Trump went on to say that if he had not closed the country, there could have been more than 3 million deaths.

“It’s a horrible thing. Should never have happened. China let this happen and just remember it, ”Trump added.

The facts first: It is misleading for Trump to say that he closed the US border for travel from China and Europe because both policies contained multiple exemptions, including for US citizens and permanent residents; European policy has exempted entire countries. Only foreign nationals who had stayed in China, the Schengen area in Europe, the UK or Ireland in the last 14 days were outright banned from entering the US.

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