- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 26, 2020

Poison control and an emergency hotline experienced an uptick in calls last week after President Trump floated the idea of injecting disinfectant as a possible coronavirus treatment, according to governors in Michigan and Maryland.

The comments came as the White House weighs dialing back Mr. Trump’s appearances at the daily coronavirus task-force briefings, where the president made the remark that prompted swift pushback from politicians, scientific experts and major cleaning companies.

“All I know is this: when the person with the most powerful position on the planet is encouraging people to think about disinfectants, whether it was serious or not, people listen,” Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, said on ABC’s “This Week.”

“And so we have seen an increase in numbers of people calling poison control and so I think it’s really important that every one us with a platform disseminate medically accurate information,” Ms. Whitmer said. “I want to say, unequivocally, no one should be using disinfectant — to digest it to fight COVID-19. Please don’t do it. Just don’t do it.”

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said his state’s emergency health department hotline got hundreds of calls seeking guidance on whether it was right to ingest Clorox bleach or alcohol-based cleaning products as a treatment for COVID-19.

“I think the president has got to focus on the message, stick to a message and make sure that these press conferences are fact-based,” Mr. Hogan, a Republican, said on the program.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has relentlessly mocked Mr. Trump since he first made the comment Thursday.

“You know what they call that? They call that embalming. That’s the medical term,” Mrs. Pelosi, California Democrat, said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Mr. Trump raised the idea of injecting disinfectant Thursday after a Homeland Security official presented results of a study at the country’s premier government virology lab that showed sunlight and disinfectants dramatically cut the lifespan of the virus on surfaces.

“I see the disinfectant, where it knocks it out in a minute. One minute. And is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning,” the president said. “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. So, that, you’re going to have to use medical doctors with.”

On Friday, the president claimed he was sarcastically trolling the media with the comments.

On Saturday, he suggested the daily White House coronavirus task force briefings, where he had made the remarks about disinfectants, aren’t worth his time.

“They get record ratings, & the American people get nothing but Fake News. Not worth the time & effort!” he tweeted.

Mr. Trump’s Friday briefing lasted only about 20 minutes and he didn’t answer questions, an abrupt change from what had become a daily TV event lasting two hours or longer.

He skipped holding a briefing over the weekend amid reports that advisers are urging the president to scale them back and saying they are not helping him politically.

At Thursday’s briefing, William Bryan of the Department of Homeland Security said direct sunlight and higher temperatures have had effects on destabilizing the virus and mentioned that tests on disinfectants’ effects were also being conducted.

“I can tell you that bleach will kill the virus in five minutes; isopropyl alcohol will kill the virus in 30 seconds, and that’s with no manipulation, no rubbing — just spraying it on and letting it go,” Mr. Bryan said.

Mr. Trump had also raised the possibility of hitting the body with ultraviolet or “very powerful” light.

“The whole concept of the light, the way it kills it in one minute, that’s pretty powerful,” he said.

Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, said Sunday that Mr. Trump was having a dialogue with Mr. Bryan and he understood it was not a treatment.

She did say a recent MIT study found that sunlight can affect the virus outside.

“You’re wearing masks because you could have asymptomatic infection, and you will decrease your transmission to others,” she said on CNN. “I think the half-life in the sunlight is very important as we move forward to really understand how we can effectively create decontamination in different environments.”

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