President Donald Trump likes to talk about the most, the best, the thing that nobody has ever seen.
Now he is trying to make a virtue of a lower number, arguing that the efforts of his administration have warded off a far greater death toll than otherwise would have been seen.
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But the reported U.S. death toll on Wednesday crept past 60,000, a figure that Trump in recent weeks had suggested might be the total death count. He had cited the estimate as a sign of relative success after the White House previously warned the U.S. could suffer 100,000 to 240,000 deaths.
Trump also has repeatedly used the outer band of any estimate — the potential that 2.2 million Americans could have died had there been no interventions — to try to make his case most powerfully.
The U.S. death toll from COVID-19 is certain to keep growing from here.
And, like the unemployment rate, the numbers also will be revised — and likely upward, due to underreporting. The focus on death tallies also overlooks other important markers such as immunity levels and infection rates.