Although he insisted at a bill signing Friday that he had been speaking sarcastically the night before, President Trump’s speculation at a White House news conference Thursday whether disinfectants might be used to combat the coronavirus has prompted a warning from Maryland emergency and public health officials.
During his nightly briefing on the federal response to COVID-19, Trump mused that figuring out a way to get disinfectant inside a person’s system could kill the virus somehow.
“I see the disinfectant that knocks it out in a minute, one minute,” Trump said. “And is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside, or almost a cleaning? Because you see it gets inside the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs, so it would be interesting to check that.”
Moments earlier, the president suggested that ultraviolet rays administered internally could fight the virus.
“Supposing you brought the light inside of the body, which you can do either through the skin or in some other way?”
Trump’s statements so alarmed public health officials — in Maryland and across the country — that they started issuing warnings in response to the president’s remarks. So did manufacturers of cleaning products.
The Maryland Emergency Management Administration issued this statement on Twitter Friday: “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.”
The Maryland Department of Health added a tweet of its own reminding Marylanders to contact their health care providers if they are experiencing #COVID-19 symptoms or have questions about the virus.
“We decided to take the step of posting this alert after receiving more than 100 calls to our hotline” about injecting disinfectants, Michael Ricci, a spokesman for Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R), said in a tweet of his own.
Also on Thursday, U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) sent an email to supporters with the subject line “Don’t drink bleach.”
The email began by blasting the Trump administration for firing Rick Bright, the federal official tasked with developing a vaccine for coronavirus, because he had spoken out against the president’s earlier advocacy for hydroxychloroquine as a possible remedy for COVID-19.
“This dangerous pattern of trying to silence top health experts in favor of promoting politically motivated messages and ‘quack’ ideas is getting worse daily,” Van Hollen wrote.
“Yesterday on national TV Trump suggested that scientists explore inserting DISINFECTANT into the bodies of individuals with coronavirus to clear them from the disease — and implied that Americans might try this strategy themselves!”
As he signed the latest congressional legislation Friday providing federal funding for the states, Trump insisted that his musings on using disinfectant to cure COVID-19 were part of a “sarcastic” response to “a very sarcastic question.”