"No, I don't," said the president on whether he takes responsibility for the increase in poison control calls about his disinfectant comments

By Benjamin VanHoose
April 28, 2020 08:40 AM
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President Donald Trump during a press conference at the White House on Monday.
| Credit: MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images

President Donald Trump says he doesn't see a correlation between his inaccurate comments about disinfectants and the increase in people misusing household cleaners.

On Monday, Trump, 73, was asked about the surge of poison control cases across the country. "I can't imagine why," he responded, feigning ignorance.

When asked a followup on whether he felt responsible for the rise in people misusing disinfectants, given his off-the-cuff comments last week about looking into them as a coronavirus (COVID-19) treatment, Trump said, "No, I don't," before shutting down the question altogether.

The president, last Thursday, bizarrely mused during a press conference about the idea of using disinfectant as a way to fight the respiratory virus.

“I see the disinfectant, where it knocks it [the virus] out in a minute. … Is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning?” he said at the time. “Because you see it gets in the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs. So it would be interesting to check that.”

Trump later claimed that his remarks were sarcastic, and the White House said the comments were "out of context" and that the president "has repeatedly said that Americans should consult with medical doctors regarding coronavirus treatment."

Following Trump's public statements about disinfectants, states began reporting increases in poison control calls, including in Maryland, where Gov. Larry Hogan's office said the state's Emergency Management Agency fielded more than 100 calls asking about the president's words.

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Due to the influx of calls, the agency issued an alert to remind everyone that “under no circumstances should any disinfectant product be administered into the body through injection, ingestion or any other route.”

The president's comments about disinfectants came mid-briefing after William Bryan, the undersecretary for science and technology at the Department of Homeland Security, gave a presentation on an ongoing study that shows heat, humidity and sunlight might possibly break down COVID-19 at a faster rate than when it lives in a colder environment.

Bryan also said bleach and other disinfectants like isopropyl alcohol have been shown to kill the virus in saliva and other respiratory fluids — “with no manipulation, no rubbing, just spraying it on and letting it go. You rub it and it goes away even faster.”

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Following Trump's comments, the makers of Lysol, Reckitt Benckiser, issued a statement stressing to customers that their products should never be ingested or used as treatments or remedies. Disinfectants such as Lysol or bleach are toxic, and ingesting or injecting them can be fatal.

“As a global leader in health and hygiene products, we must be clear that under no circumstance should our disinfectant products be administered into the human body (through injection, ingestion or any other route),” the company said. “As with all products, our disinfectant and hygiene products should only be used as intended and in line with usage guidelines.”

The American Chemistry Council also released a statement on Friday saying that chlorine bleach “should never be administered inside the body under any circumstances.”

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