Multiple governors appeared on news shows on Sunday morning to report that their states have seen an increase in calls concerning President Donald Trump’s recent suggestion that patients be injected with disinfectant to cure COVID-19.
During a press conference on Thursday, Trump asked senior health officials to explore disinfectant-related treatments for coronavirus, “almost like a cleaning.” Trump’s request followed an announcement from Department of Homeland Security official Bill Bryan that some studies have shown the virus does not survive well on surfaces ― like countertops and refrigerators ― and in the air when hit with ultraviolet rays or disinfectant.
In response to Trump’s public suggestion, the manufacturer of Lysol and Dettol issued a statement saying, “Under no circumstance should our disinfectant products be administered into the human body through injection, ingestion or any other route.”
On Sunday, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) said on ABC’s “This Week” that his office has received “hundred of calls” seeking guidance on Trump’s suggestion, and added the president “needs to make sure these press conferences are fact-based.”
On the same program, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) said that poison control in her state has also seen an increase in calls since Trump’s suggestion, adding, “It’s really important that every one of us with a platform disseminate medically accurate information.”
Dr. Deborah Birx, the response coordinator for the Trump administration’s coronavirus task force, quickly discredited Trump’s suggestion before pivoting to discuss the results of studies she believes Trump was referencing.
“I made it very clear, and so has Dr. Fauci and everyone associated with the task force. … This is not a treatment,” she said.
Dr. Birx generously claimed the president was “digesting information” when he made the suggestion, but Trump responded to backlash over his suggestion by claiming he’d made it “sarcastically” to reporters “just to see what would happen.”
But after Trump’s initial comment, multiple state agencies received calls asking whether ingesting disinfectant can cure coronavirus.
Trump’s disinfectant suggestion wasn’t the first unsubstantiated claim he has made about a potential coronavirus cure. In early April, against the advice of some health officials in his administration, he began promoting an anti-malarial drug, hydroxychloroquine, that has not yet been proven safe or effective for use on people infected with the coronavirus.
“What do you have to lose?” he asked about the drug, repeatedly.
On Friday, the FDA cautioned against the use of malaria drugs, including hydroxychloroquine, to treat COVID-19 patients outside of hospitals and clinical trials, citing serious risk of heart rhythm problems and, potentially, death.
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