How Donald Trump and Joe Biden Reacted to the 200,000 U.S. Lives Lost to COVID-19 So Far

As the U.S. death toll from COVID-19 surpassed 200,000 lives lost this week, the two presidential nominees spoke out about the grim benchmark in different ways.

President Donald Trump called the total a "shame" while speaking with reporters outside the White House on Tuesday, before he blamed China, hailed the stock market and said the U.S. is "doing well in reopening" its economy.

Back in March, Trump, 74, told reporters that if the U.S. could kept its death toll below 200,000 people, it would show his administration had "done a very good job."

Trump graded his handling of the virus — which has infected more than 6.9 million Americans in the last eight months — an "A-plus" during an interview on Fox News this week.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has disapproved of Trump's handling of the novel coronavirus — a sentiment echoed by 56% of Americans in a recent NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll. On Monday Biden said that 200,000 lives lost is a "tragic milestone."

"It means there are empty chairs and dining room tables and kitchen tables that weeks and months ago were filled with a loved one, a mom, a dad, a brother, a sister," Biden, 77, said during his campaign speech in Manitowoc, Wisconsin.

Biden directly blamed Trump for lying to the American public about the virus' threat. (Trump admitted that he "wanted to always play it down" in recorded interviews with veteran journalist Bob Woodward made public earlier this month.)

"The president knew of these dangers back in February and he hid it from the American people," Biden said. "You can actually hear his own voice recorded by Bob Woodward’s interview with him saying that he understood how bad it was."

A new model from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington’s School of Medicine shows the country's death toll is at risk of doubling by January.

"We can’t lose the ability to feel the sorrow and the loss and the anger for so many lives lost," Biden said. "We can’t let the numbers become statistics, a background noise, just a blur that we see on the nightly news."

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from the WHO and local public health departments. PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a GoFundMe.org fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.

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