Calls to poison control centers around the country saw a huge uptick over the weekend following President Trump’s comments Thursday that “disinfectant that knocks it [COVID-19] out in a minute, one minute.”
NPR reports: [The NYC] Department of Health and Mental Hygiene said that in an 18-hour period ending at 3 p.m. Friday, the poison control center recorded 30 cases. These included nine “specifically about exposure to Lysol, 10 cases specifically about bleach and 11 cases about exposures to other household cleaners,” department spokesperson Pedro F. Frisneda” said. The city’s health commissioner released a message discouraging New Yorkers from injecting bleach and other disinfectants. “Very clearly, disinfectants are not intended for ingestion either by mouth, by ears, by breathing them in — in any way, shape or form. And doing so can put people at great risk,” said Dr. Oxiris Barbot in a video posted to Twitter.
Should you inject bleach to fight COVID-19?
— NYC Mayor's Office (@NYCMayorsOffice) April 24, 2020
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that cases of exposure to cleaners and disinfectants have gone up 20% from January through March 2020 compared with the same time period last year. The CDC notes that the spike in calls began in early March but cautioned that it could not prove a “definite link between exposures and COVID-19 cleaning efforts.”
According to The Hill: Illinois Department of Public Health Director Ngozi Ezike issued a similar warning to residents in the state in the wake of Trump’s remarks during a briefing on Friday. “There has been a significant increase in calls to the Illinois Poison Control Center in association with exposure to cleaning agents [since Thursday],” Ezike said at the briefing, according to NBC Chicago.
The Hill also says that Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) said on Sunday that emergency hotlines in their states recorded an increase in calls from people looking for guidance since Trump’s controversial remarks. “We have seen an increase in numbers of people calling poison control, and so I think it’s really important that every one of us with a platform disseminate medically accurate information,” Whitmer said. “I want to say, unequivocally no one should be using disinfectant, to digest it to fight COVID-19,” she continued. “Please don’t do it. Just don’t do it.”
Hogan said his state saw “hundreds of calls come into our emergency hotline at our health department asking if it was right to ingest Clorox or alcohol cleaning products, whether that was going to help them fight the virus.”
Trump made the remark after Bill Bryan, who leads the Department of Homeland Security’s science and technology division,said, “The virus dies quickest in sunlight,” leaving Trump to wonder whether you could bring the light “inside the body.”
“So supposing we hit the body with a tremendous — whether it’s ultraviolet or just a very powerful light — and I think you said that hasn’t been checked because of the testing,” Trump said, speaking to Bryan during the briefing. “And then I said, supposing you brought the light inside the body, which you can do either through the skin or some other way, and I think you said you’re going to test that, too. I see the disinfectant that 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? As you see, it gets in the lungs, it does a tremendous number on the lungs, so it would be interesting to check that.”
Watch the clip of Trump’s comments below.