New York City Sees Uptick in Poison Control Calls in Wake of Donald Trump's Disinfectant Comments

New York City officials said the poison control center received a surprisingly high number of calls in recent days after President Donald Trump speculated about using disinfectants in a coronavirus treatment. During Thursday's press briefing Trump told a Homeland Security official it would be "interesting to check" how the virus would react to disinfectants. Trump later claimed the comment was sarcasm and directed at the media.

The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene reported that in an 18-hour period ending Friday, the poison control center received 30 calls, reports NPR. Nine were about "exposure" to Lysol, 10 involved bleach and 11 cases were "about exposure to other household cleaners. During the same time frame last year, only 13 cases came to the poison control center.

On Friday, the city's health commissioner, Dr. Oxiris Barbot, shared a video on Twitter, warning New Yorkers not to inject 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," she said in the video.

New York City was not the only place to see a spike in calls about ingesting disinfectants. Bruce Anderson, the Executive Director with the Maryland Poison Center, told WBFF calls about "potentially toxic exposure" to hand sanitizer and bleach have almost doubled in the past six weeks, during the coronavirus pandemic. "We would not recommend anyone ingesting or injecting anything, please don't do that," Anderson said of Trump's comments.

"And then I see the disinfectant, where it knocks it out in a minute. One minute," Trump said during Thursday's briefing after William Bryan of the Science and Technology Directorate at the Department of Homeland Security spoke earlier. "And is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning. 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. But it sounds, it sounds interesting to me. So, we'll see, but the whole concept of the light, the way it kills it in one minute."

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Trump also speculated about "light and heat" being used to treat the coronavirus. "Not as a treatment," Dr. Deborah Brix, a member of the White House task force on the pandemic said. "I mean, certainly fever is a good thing. When you have a fever, it helps your body respond. But, I've not seen heat or light as a [treatment]."

On Friday, when Trump signed another coronavirus relief bill, he claimed he was "asking a question sarcastically" to reporters "just to see what would happen." He added, "I was asking a sarcastic and a very sarcastic question to the reporters in the room about disinfectant on the inside. But it does kill it and it would kill it on the hands, and it would make things much better."