President Trump on Tuesday offered his first reaction to the United States surpassing 200,000 deaths from COVID-19, telling reporters it was "a shame" but that it could have been worse.
"I think it’s a shame. I think if we didn’t do it properly and do it right you’d have 2.5 million deaths," he told reporters.
Trump initially ignored a question about why he hadn't said anything about the grim milestone before answering the same question from another reporter. He pointed to his decision to limit travel into the country from China and Europe.
"But it’s a horrible thing. Should have never, ever happened," Trump said. "China let this happen, and just remember that."
Experts have credited the restrictions on travel from China in late January with buying the U.S. more time to respond, though the decision to block travel from Europe came in mid-March, after the virus had likely spread throughout the country.
The United States earlier Tuesday recorded 200,000 deaths from the coronavirus, according to Johns Hopkins University data, the highest reported number of any country in the world.
Trump and other White House officials on Tuesday offered limited comment on the U.S. hitting 200,000 deaths but echoed a similar message that it could have been worse. White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany cited some models that predicted the U.S. could have seen 2.2 million deaths had there been no social distancing measures in place.