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WASHINGTON (CBSMiami/CNN) — Nearly 3,000 people died in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.

President Donald Trump denied this reality in a tweet Thursday morning as Hurricane Florence as barrels toward the Carolinas.

Earlier this month, the island’s governor formally raised the death toll from Hurricane Maria to an estimated 2,975 from 64 following a study conducted by researchers at The George Washington University. The university study accounted for Puerto Ricans who succumbed to the stifling heat and other aftereffects of the storm and had not been previously counted in official figures. Much of the US territory was without power for weeks.

“The casualties mounted for a long time so I have no reason to dispute those numbers,” said House Speaker Paul Ryan.

In a second tweet Thursday, Trump cast blame on Democrats, who he said are trying to make him look bad.

San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin called out Trump on Twitter.

Sen. Bill Nelson also weighed in.

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, a Democrat who is running for governor, also responded to Trump’s claims.

Both Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who is running for Senate in the state, and former Rep. Ron DeSantis, who is running against Gillum, issued statements affirming their belief in the death count.

DeSantis’ communications director echoed Scott’s sentiment, telling reporters in a statement that the gubernatorial candidate “doesn’t believe any loss of life has been inflated.”

“Ron DeSantis has always worked to help the Puerto Rican community, both on the Island and here in Florida,” said Stephen Lawson, communications director for the DeSantis campaign. “He doesn’t believe any loss of life has been inflated. Ron is focused on continuing to help our Puerto Rican neighbors recover and create opportunities for those who have moved to Florida succeed.”

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DeSantis’ statement did not mention Trump by name, but his campaign’s decision to come out against the President’s view was particularly noteworthy given the candidate openly courted Trump during his primary campaign and has commended him countless times.

The study was commissioned by Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló, a member of Puerto Rico’s “New Progressive Party.” It was conducted by the nonpartisan George Washington University’s Milken Institute School of Public Health.

There has been no evidence to indicate that partisan politics has played a role in the calculation of the death tally.

(©2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. CNN contributed to this report.)

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