Donald Trump has defended his decision to spend most of the Memorial Day weekend playing golf as the US death toll neared 100,000.
The US President tweeted that he was just getting “a little exercise”, after videos and images of him playing went viral on social media.
“Some stories about the fact that in order to get outside and perhaps, even a little exercise, I played golf over the weekend. The Fake & Totally Corrupt News makes it sound like a mortal sin – I knew this would happen!,” he tweeted, adding that this was the first time he had played in nearly three months.
He also made reference to Democratic nominee Joe Biden and former president Barack Obama.
“They don’t mention Sleepy Joe’s poor work ethic, or all of the time Obama spent on the golf course,” Mr Trump said.
Over the weekend, Mr Biden’s campaign tweeted a video of Mr Trump playing golf juxtaposed with the rising COVID-19 death toll numbers.
“Nearly 100,000 lives have been lost, and tens of millions are out of work. Meanwhile, the president spent his day golfing,” the Democratic nominee said.
Before becoming President, Mr Trump had repeatedly criticised former president Barack Obama for playing golf including during the 2014 ebola outbreak.
According to the website trumpgolfcount.com, Mr Trump has spent 251 days golfing since his January 2017 inauguration, at an estimated cost to the US taxpayer of $134 million.
By contrast, according to the website, Mr Obama played golf 306 times during the entire eight years of his two-term presidency.
The images of Mr Trump playing golf sparked a backlash on social media. Many shared images of a silhouette of the President golfing photoshopped against the viral New York Times front page that named 1000 people who had died from COVID-19.
The United States has more than 1.6 million infections – the highest in the world – while forecast models for possible COVID-19 deaths predict the death toll will exceed 100,000 by June 1.
Despite this, almost all 50 states have begun relaxing their coronavirus restrictions.
Mr Trump is eager to have the pandemic-stricken economy in at least somewhat better shape by the fall to bolster his chances of staying in the White House, with the election due to take place in November.