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“Our doctors are smart people, so what they do is say ‘I’m sorry but, you know, everybody dies of Covid,’” Trump continued, asserting that each coronavirus death was worth “like $2,000 more” without providing further details.

The head of the American Medical Association on Friday denounced attacks on the motivations of health care workers during the pandemic as “malicious, outrageous and comply misguided,” without mentioning Trump by name.

Trump’s comments came the same day that the United States officially exceeded 9 million confirmed cases of Covid-19, just two weeks after it surpassed the 8 million mark as the virus continues to spread throughout much of the country.

Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus task force coordinator, told governors on a call Friday that a third of the country, or 1,200 counties, meets the definition of a “hot spot” — including in places like Wisconsin, which Trump campaigned following the Michigan event.

Donald Trump Jr., Trump’s son and a top campaign surrogate, downplayed the country’s coronavirus death count, which is fast approaching 230,000, saying that “the number is almost nothing” in an interview with Fox News’ Laura Ingraham on Thursday.

The pandemic has become the defining issue of this year’s presidential contest. Trump has said that he was on a glide path to a second term before the virus came ashore earlier this year, and he has fervently defended his administration’s response as Biden seeks to make the election a referendum on Trump’s leadership.

“Donald Trump waved the white flag and surrendered to this virus,” Biden said in Minnesota.

Trump’s campaign is instead betting that voters have become fatigued by constant news about the pandemic and positioned him as a better steward of the economic recovery than Biden.

“Next year will be their greatest economic year in the history of our country,” Trump said in Wisconsin if he’s reelected. “Joe Biden’s plan would delay the vaccine, postpone therapies, crash the economy and lock down the entire country.”

The contrast between the two extends to the style of their campaigns. Trump has held his signature large rallies with raucous crowds — even in states that have imposed restrictions on mass gatherings — whereas the Biden camp has emphasized social distancing with things like drive-in events where people honk from their cars to register approval instead of cheering.

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