President Donald Trump told reporters Friday that he was only testing the media when he suggested injecting people with disinfectant to fight off the coronavirus.
“I was asking a question sarcastically to reporters like you just to see what would happen,” he said early Friday afternoon, just as the coronavirus death toll in the U.S. surpassed 50,000.
Trump did not appear to be joking when he pondered the idea at Thursday’s press briefing.
“I see the disinfectant where it knocks it out in one minute,” Trump said at the time, once again pushing unproven treatments for COVID-19. “Is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside, or almost a cleaning? … It would be interesting to check that.”
Trump made those remarks after senior Department of Homeland Security official Bill Bryan said experiments showed the coronavirus didn’t fare well in sunlight, heat or humidity.
“Suppose you can bring the light inside the body,” Trump pondered aloud on Thursday.
But Trump insisted Friday that he was talking about using disinfectant on hands, not inside the body.
“I do think disinfectant on the hands could have a very good effect,” he said when asked about his injection comments.
Though Trump now claims he was joking on Thursday, his remarks were concerning enough for the manufacturer of Lysol and other cleaning products to issue a statement urging people not to consume the products in any form.
“We must be clear that under no circumstance should our disinfectant products be administered into the human body through injection, ingestion or any other route,” the company, RB, said.
Americans took Trump’s remarks seriously, too, according to some state-level officials. The Maryland Emergency Management Agency sent out a tweet Friday morning, saying it had “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 agency said.