Early Saturday, President Donald Trump took to Twitter with a reminder for his followers not to inject or otherwise consume household disinfectants like bleach. On Thursday, Trump himself had suggested at a press conference that internal usage of those disinfectants might be worth looking into as a potential Coronavirus treatment option. It’s not — internal usage of bleach or anything remotely similar would poison any individual. On Friday, he claimed he was being sarcastic, but authorities — including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which he retweeted — had to step in with clarifications and warnings anyway.
‘Household cleaners and disinfectants can cause health problems when not used properly. Follow the instructions on the product label to ensure safe and effective use.’
On the local level, the Maryland Emergency Management Agency revealed on Friday that they had received “several” calls about the potential internal usage of household disinfectants, and they too issued a public warning about the topic. They shared:
‘We have received several calls regarding questions about disinfectant use and #COVID19. This is a reminder that under no circumstances should any disinfectant product be administered into the body through injection, ingestion or any other route.’
ALERT🚨: We have received several calls regarding questions about disinfectant use and #COVID19.
This is a reminder that under no circumstances should any disinfectant product be administered into the body through injection, ingestion or any other route.
— Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MDMEMA) (@MDMEMA) April 24, 2020
In an ideal world, public health authorities would be able to focus their energies somewhere other than admonishing the public not to take the president’s comments and suggestions seriously amidst a pandemic. Trump claimed that he simply “was asking a question sarcastically to reporters like you just to see what would happen,” but the repeated times that he returned to the concept during the same briefing and the defense from White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany issued before his sarcasm excuse seriously undermine that idea.
Here's a mashup of Trump claiming today he was just asking "a very sarcastic question to the reporters in the room" when he mused about disinfectant injections as a possible coronavirus miracle cure, followed by the original clip showing beyond a doubt that he was not doing that. pic.twitter.com/wby4ucd59Q
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) April 24, 2020
Republicans have faced heavy criticism for falling in line behind the president’s whims amidst the pandemic. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) even recently suggested that it might be better to let states go bankrupt than send them financial assistance from the federal government.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) countered:
‘Speaking of Mitch. What’s gotten into him?.. The President is asking people to inject Lysol into their lungs and Mitch is saying that states should go bankrupt. It’s clearly visible within 24 hours of how the Republicans reject science and reject governance.’
Pelosi: "Speaking of Mitch. What's gotten into him? … The President is asking people to inject Lysol into their lungs and Mitch is saying that states should go bankrupt. It's clearly visible within 24 hours of how the Republicans reject science and reject governance."
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) April 24, 2020
Trump may actually be paring back his public press conference appearances in the wake of the injecting disinfectant debacle. Although the U.S. still has a long way to go to climb out of the thicket of the pandemic, Axios now reports:
‘President Trump plans to pare back his coronavirus press conferences, according to four sources familiar with the internal deliberations… These conversations were underway before Trump suggested that researchers investigate whether doctors could cure coronavirus by injecting people with disinfectant. But a source said it finally seems to have dawned on Trump, after this incident, that these briefings aren’t helping him.’
Meanwhile, Americans are continuing to struggle. The death toll soared past 50,000 in the U.S. this week, and the count of confirmed cases is almost at one million as of early Saturday. Cases will likely hit that mark soon.