The coronavirus death toll in the United States surpassed the number of American fatalities in the Vietnam War on Tuesday, reaching 58,351 in less than four months. Over the course of 20 years, from 1955 to 1975, 58,220 Americans died in the Southeast Asian conflict, according to the National Archives. President Trump has repeatedly used the phrase “light at the end of the tunnel” throughout the coronavirus crisis, which was a signature expression of President Nixon and his war advisers during the Vietnam War.
During a Monday coronavirus press briefing, Olivia Nuzzi, a reporter with New York magazine, asked Trump if he believes that he deserves to be re-elected if more Americans die over the course of six weeks than the “entirety of the Vietnam War.” Trump indicated that he is prepared to claim relative success in a death rate that exceeds the total casualties of the Vietnam War by asserting that it could have reached 2.2 million—the number of estimated deaths if the U.S. had done nothing to mitigate the coronavirus threat. “One person is too many for this,” Trump added, “and I think we made a lot of really good decisions.”