States Report Spike in Poison Control Calls After Donald Trump's Comments About Injecting Disinfectants

President Donald Trump may have been being "sarcastic" when he suggested that injecting disinfectants into the body could be a possible treatment for the coronavirus, but more than just a few people have taken his words to heart. In the hours following his controversial suggestion, poison control centers across the country have seen a spike in calls about exposure to household cleaners.

Within 18 hours after Trump made the remarks, which have been widely criticized by medical professionals, New York City's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene saw a rise in calls related to exposure to household cleaners. Whereas the agency only saw 13 calls over that same 18-hour period a year ago, they received 30 during that 18-hour period ending Friday at 3 p.m., they confirmed to NPR. Of those cases, department spokesman Pedro Frisneda said nine were "specifically about exposure to Lysol, 10 cases specifically about bleach and 11 cases about exposures to other household cleaners."

Similarly, Mike Ricci, the communications director for Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, reported that the state's Emergency Management Agency received more than 100 calls about ingesting disinfectants as a possible treatment for the coronavirus, ABC News reports. As a result, the state sent out an emergency alert reminding residents that "under no circumstances should any disinfectant product be administered into the body through injection, ingestion or any other route."

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The state of Illinois has also seen a surge in calls in poison control since the president’s remarks, Illinois Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said during a Saturday afternoon press conference, CNN reports. Ezike said that one such call was from a person who used a detergent based solution for a sinus rinse, while another call related to someone having gargled with a bleach and mouthwash mixture to kill germs. Ezike warned that "injecting, ingesting, snorting household cleaners is dangerous" and that it "can be deadly."

The surge in calls, which come as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found a surge in calls to poison control centers regarding exposure to household cleaners and disinfectants amid the pandemic, come following Trump's remarks during his Thursday briefing last week. After he was presented with the results of government research that found coronavirus appeared to weaken faster when exposed to sunlight and heat, and that bleach could kill the virus in saliva or respiratory fluids within five minutes, he suggested that that ultraviolet light and injections of disinfectant could be a possible treatment that should be looked into. As medical professionals and disinfectant brands began to speak out against the suggestions, downplayed the remarks, claiming that he "was asking a sarcastic and a very sarcastic question."