A medical technician at a testing center, Houston, Texas, July 7, (Callaghan O’Hare/Reuters)

Coronavirus deaths in the US pass 200,000.

Donald Trump blames China and says that it is “a shame”, encouraging supporters not to wear masks or observe social distancing.

The US death rate reached 200,786 on Tuesday, with 905 fatalities in 24 hours. Confirmed cases are 6,896,218, an increase of 38,515 in 24 hours.

Outside the White House, Trump said the deaths were a “shame” but proclaimed, with no evidence, that he had prevented “2 1/2 million” and blamed China for any that had occurred.

He said, “Now we are doing well. We are reopening. The stock market is up.”

Later, before setting off for a rally in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, he refused to answer a reporter’s question about the “tragic milestone” — Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden’s label for the death toll in a hard-hitting speech on Tuesday about Trump’s “lies and incompetence”:

Anticipating Trump’s performance, Democratic Vice Presidential candidate Kamala Harris said in Detroit, Michigan:

We are looking at now the marker, the sad, awful marker of 200,000 lives that have perished in just the last several months. Almost 7 million people who have contracted the virus and to this day.

We have a commander in chief of the United States of America who is holding rallies, with no masks because you see he has convinced everyone that you’re on one side of his ledger if you wear a mask, and you’re on the other side of his ledger if you don’t, making value judgments about people who are concerned with not dying.

We’re talking about the President of the United States. We deserve better.

Mocking Coronavirus Measures: “A Beautiful Corona”

Trump fulfilled Harris’s assessment, opening the Pennsylvania rally with mocking of Biden for wearing a mask and for practicing social distancing.

Trump claimed that Coronavirus measures were implemented by Democrats “trying to make our numbers look bad”, and encouraged the crowd to boo Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf.

He said that he uses the slur “China virus” instead of Coronavirus, because “Corona sounds like a place in Italy, a beautiful place. ‘It’s Coronaaa.’…A beautiful villa, you have a beautiful ‘Coronaaa’.”

Trump then insisted, “We did a great job”, trying to stand up the claim with a lie about the Obama Administration’s handling of the swine flu epidemic in 2009.

Whipping up the audience, Trump said paid “professional anarchists” were throwing “tuna fish…it’s the perfect weight” at police, and laughed about violence against reporters. He mocked one who was shot in the leg with a rubber bullet in Portland, Oregon, and cheered about another, “They threw him aside like he was a little bag of popcorn.”

“250,000 Dead By End of Year For Absolutely No Reason”

Meanwhile, Jeremy Konyndyk of the Center for Global Development, a senior official in the US Government response to Ebola in 2014, updated The Guardian about his assessment in April that the Trump Administration’s handling of Coronavirus was “one of the greatest failures of basic governance in modern times”.

I think my analysis has borne out extremely well. We’re on track to have a quarter-million dead Americans by the end of the year with absolutely no reason it had to happen.

It was all preventable. So yes, this is a leadership failure of astounding proportions.

Speaking last week about shortages of personal protective equipment, the president of the American Medical Association, Susan Bailey, said, “In many ways things have only gotten worse.”