September 23 coronavirus news

By Adam Renton, Brad Lendon, Melissa Macaya and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 12:01 a.m. ET, September 24, 2020
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12:02 a.m. ET, September 23, 2020

China’s UN ambassador calls the US coronavirus response "a complete failure"

From CNN's Laura Dolan

China’s ambassador to the United Nations hit out at the United States on Tuesday, calling the country's handling of the coronavirus pandemic “a complete failure.”

In a news conference held at the Chinese Mission in New York, Zhang Jun said: “If we do have to hold anyone accountable, it should be the United States held accountable for losing so many lives with their irresponsible behavior.” 

He also defended his own country’s response to the crisis, which he says is now under control after “great effort and enormous sacrifice.”

The news conference was held solely in response to US President Donald Trump’s attack on China at the UN General Assembly (UNGA) Tuesday.

During his pre-recorded address to the UNGA, Trump said the United Nations must hold China accountable for their actions. He accused the country of spreading the virus and falsely declaring that there was no evidence of human-to-human transmission. 

Zhang called Trump’s accusations lies.

“Let me make it very clear that lies are lies -- even though lies can be repeated 1,000 times, they remain lies,” said Zhang, adding that attempts to shift blame would not help the US solve its own problems. “It’s really time for some US politicians to wake up from their self-created illusions or fictions instead of going further along the wrong direction. They may wish to be great, but to be great you have to behave like a leader,” Zhang said.

The ambassador also criticized the US’ health care system, saying: “This is the country with the most advanced medical system with the most advanced medical technology, but still they have ranked #1 in confirmed cases and lost lives."

Ambassador Zhang said China will exercise its right of reply in accordance with the rules of the General Assembly, which means a China delegate will address the session at some point this week to officially respond to Trump’s speech.

Read more about the UN General Assembly:

11:44 p.m. ET, September 22, 2020

Trump on America surpassing 200,000 coronavirus deaths: "Well, I think it's a shame"

From CNN's Jason Hoffman

President Donald Trump stops and takes questions from reporters on his way to Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House on September 22, in Washington.
President Donald Trump stops and takes questions from reporters on his way to Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House on September 22, in Washington. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Asked about the coronavirus death toll reaching 200,000 in the United States on Tuesday, President Donald Trump said, “Well, I think it’s a shame."

After ignoring a question from CNN's Nikki Carvajal on his message to the American people, Trump was pressed on passing the 200,000 death threshold, and turned the conversation to his standard response on the virus, blaming China and saying the death count could have been much worse had he not taken action.

“I think if we didn’t do it properly and do it right, you’d have two and a half million deaths. If you take a look at alternatives, you could have two and a half million deaths or something thereabouts. You could have a number that would be substantially more,” Trump told reporters before departing the White House on Tuesday. “And you saw my United Nations speech, China should have stopped it at their border. They should have never let this spread all over the world and it’s a terrible thing.”

Trump went on to say had he not closed the country down, there could have been upwards of 3 million deaths.

“It’s a horrible thing. Should have never ever happened. China let this happen and just remember that,” Trump added.

Facts First: It’s misleading for Trump to say he closed the US border to travel from China and Europe because both policies contained multiple exemptions, including for US citizens and permanent residents; the Europe policy exempted entire countries. Only foreign nationals who had been in China, Europe's Schengen area, the UK or Ireland within the past 14 days were outright banned from entering the US.