- President Trump seemed to suggest Thursday that medical experts should explore the possibility of using disinfectant to treat the coronavirus, “by injection inside or almost a cleaning.”
- Afterward, the CDC, the maker of Lysol, and other medical professionals warned against injecting or consuming household cleaners and disinfectants.
- The White House said Trump’s comments were taken out of context by media and Trump later argued that he was being sarcastic.
- His advisors have allegedly been warning that his frequent appearances at virus briefings are not helping him in polls against Joe Biden, and this latest debacle might have finally made him agree, according to an Axios report.
Trump Under Fire
President Donald Trump is reportedly planning to scale back on his appearances at coronavirus task force press briefings, according to a new Axios report published Friday.
The news comes amid heavy backlash Trump is facing after suggesting medical experts look into the possibility of injecting disinfectant as a treatment for COVID-19.
If you’re not already caught up on what the president, the White House, and medical experts have said, here’s a breakdown.
What Happened Thursday?
As part of Thursday’s coronavirus press briefing, the public heard from William Bryan, the acting undersecretary of homeland security for science and technology. Bryan updated the public on preliminary government research about the coronavirus that can be used to inform responses to the pandemic.
He shared a few trends and observations emerging in current research: that the virus has a much harder time surviving in hot or humid conditions, or when exposed to the ultraviolet rays of direct sunlight.
Now, these experiments aren’t entirely definitive in terms of implications for human-to-human transition in real-world conditions. For instance, we know that humid places like Singapore and Ecuador have seen significant outbreaks. Still, the point is that looking at this information can help inform best practices for policies and personal conduct.
Bryan also briefly mentioned that the department has confirmed the already-known fact that isopropyl alcohol and bleach kill the virus. He said isopropyl alcohol, an ingredient in most hand sanitizers, can kill the virus in 30 seconds. Bleach, which is commonly used in disinfectant products, can kill the virus in five minutes, Bryan explained.
This is where things started to take a turn. At this point in the briefing, Trump appeared to suggest scientists should explore the possibility of bringing “light inside the body” and injecting patients with disinfectants.
Here’s exactly what the President said:
TRUMP: ‘Thank you very much. So I asked Bill a question that probably some of you are thinking of, if you’re totally into that world, which I find to be very interesting. So, supposing we hit the body with a tremendous — whether it’s ultraviolet or just very powerful light — and I think you said that that hasn’t been checked, but you’re going to test it. And then I said, supposing you brought the light inside the body, which you can do either through the skin or in some other way, and I think you said you’re going to test that too. It sounds interesting.”
BRYAN: “We’ll get to the right folks who could.”
TRUMP: “Right. And then I see the disinfectant, where it 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. 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, that’s — that’s pretty powerful.”
“The disinfectant, where it knocks it out in a minute, and is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside, or almost a cleaning. It gets in the lungs” — Trump seems to suggests that injecting disinfectant inside people could be a treatment for the coronavirus pic.twitter.com/amis9Rphsm— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) April 23, 2020
Later in the briefing, a reporter asked Bryan about the possibility of injecting people with those cleaners, saying: “There’s no scenario that that could be injected into a person, is there?”
Bryan responded, “No, I’m here to talk about the findings that we had in the study. We won’t do that within that lab and our lab.”
The president then jumped and seemingly walked back on his previous suggestion, saying, “It wouldn’t be through injection. We’re talking about through almost a cleaning, sterilization of an area. Maybe it works, maybe it doesn’t work. But it certainly has a big effect if it’s on a stationary object.”
And then even later in the briefing, Trump again suggested applying light to cure the virus, asking Dr. Deborah Birx, the response coordinator for the task force, if she’s ever heard of using that as a treatment.
Trump: “I would like you to speak to the medical doctors to see if there’s any way that you can apply light and heat to cure. You know — if you could. And maybe you can, maybe you can’t. Again, I say, maybe you can, maybe you can’t. I’m not a doctor. But I’m like a person that has a good you know what. Deborah, have you ever heard of that? The heat and the light, relative to certain viruses, yes, but relative to this virus?”
Birx: “Not as a treatment. I mean, certainly fever is a good thing. When you have a fever, it helps your body respond. But not as — I’ve not seen heat or light …”
Trump: “I think it’s a great thing to look at. I mean, you know. Okay?”
Get a load of Dr. Birx’s demeanor after Trump tells her, “I would like you to speak to the medical doctors to see if there’s any way that you can apply light and heat to cure [coronavirus].” pic.twitter.com/TP0QoSzkYl— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) April 23, 2020
Backlash and Warnings
Clips of the president’s comments spread quickly online. His initial remarks about injecting disinfectants, in particular, were met with widespread ridicule and concern.
Some even began sharing videos of Dr. Birx’s facial reactions as the president spoke.
Many pointed out that there is a ton of extensive research about the impact household cleaners have on human health. That’s why the items all have warning labels on their packaging and why the Consumer Product Safety Commission warns that they should be kept out of children’s reach. That recommendation, of course, relies on the belief that most adults already know better than to ingest bleach and household cleaners.
After Trump’s Thursday briefing, different agencies, doctors, and even the company that makes Lysol and Dettol warned that injecting or ingesting disinfectants is dangerous.
“Household cleaners and disinfectants can cause health problems when not used properly. Follow the instructions on the product label to ensure safe and effective use,” the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tweeted Friday.
Maryland’s Emergency Management Agency also said, “This is a reminder that under no circumstances should any disinfectant product be administered into the body through injection, ingestion or any other route.”
“As a global leader in health and hygiene products, 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),” Reckitt Benckiser, the maker of Lysol and Dettol said.
Clorox, the maker of bleach, soon followed, calling it critical for consumers to understand the facts. “Bleach and other disinfectants are not suitable for consumption or injection under any circumstances,” it said.
Trump and White House Respond
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany issued a statement Friday claiming that the media had taken the President’s comments out of context.
“President Trump has repeatedly said that Americans should consult with medical doctors regarding coronavirus treatment, a point that he emphasized again during yesterday’s briefing,” McEnany said. “Leave it to the media to irresponsibly take President Trump out of context and run with negative headlines.”
But when Trump was asked about his comments during a bill signing Friday, he said he was being sarcastic.
“I was asking a question sarcastically to reporters like you just to see what would happen,” Trump told a reporter.
He then suggested he was talking about disinfectants that can safely be rubbed on people’s hands, but afterward, he returned to the sarcasm explanation.
Trump: “Now, disinfectant, or doing this, maybe on the hands, would work. And I was asking the question of the gentleman who was there yesterday — Bill — because when they say that something will last three or four hours or six hours, but if the sun is out or if they use disinfectant, it goes away in less than a minute. Did you hear about this yesterday? But 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 that would make things much better. That was done in the form of a sarcastic question to the reporters. Okay.”
When a reporter noted that he had asked his medical experts to look into it. Trump responded: “No, no, no, no — to look into whether or not sun and disinfectant on the hands, but whether or not sun can help us.”
When claiming again that his comments were said sarcastically to “a group of extraordinary hostile people, namely the fake news media,” the president suggested that he was looking at reporters when he spoke.
A reporter pushed back and said he was looking at Dr. Bix, which he was in fact doing for nearly the entirety of his comments about disinfectant.
However, Trump claims he was actually looking at Bryan, Birx, and also “some of the reporters.”
Despite his claims, many agree that there was no indication the president was being sarcastic. Video also shows that Trump didn’t mention anything about disinfectant on the hands specifically.
Dr. Birx also appeared on Fox News Friday where she seemed to defend Trump by explaining how he likes to process information.
“When he gets new information, he likes to talk that through out loud and really have that dialogue — and so that’s what dialogue he was having. I think he just saw the information at the time immediately before the press conference and he was still digesting that information,” Dr. Birx told host Jesse Watters
Plans to Pare Back Briefings
According to a new report by Axios, four sources familiar with internal deliberations say the president is planning to “pare back” his coronavirus press conference.
The sources said he may stop appearing daily and may make shorter appearances when he does. This practice might have started with Friday’s presser, which was lasted under 25 minutes and included no questions from reporters. For comparison, last Friday’s briefing ran for about one hour and 45 minutes.
The report says that a number of Trump’s most trusted advisers have urged him to stop doing so many briefings, but he has argued that they get good ratings. His advisors allegedly say he’s overexposed and that his appearances are part of the reason he’s struggling in polls against Joe Biden.
“I told him it’s not helping him,” said one adviser to the president, according to Axios. “Seniors are scared. And the spectacle of him fighting with the press isn’t what people want to see.”
A senior administration official involved in the discussions said: “He should keep everyone guessing as to whether he appears day by day. And leave the technical briefings to others. Be there to announce victories.”
Another source argued that their just isn’t enough new material to justify his presence at every briefing. “I mean, you wonder how we got to the point where you’re talking about injecting disinfectant?” one source said.
The report notes that while these conversations were underway before the disinfectant debacle, the recent incident might have helped Trump realize that the briefings aren’t helping him.
However, one of Axio’s sources cautioned that nothing is official until it’s official.
See what others are saying: (Axios) (FactCheck.org) (Vox)
Florida School Says Students Vaccinated Against COVID-19 Must Stay Home for 30 Days
The school falsely claimed that people who have just been vaccinated risk “shedding” the coronavirus and could infect others.
Centner Academy Vaccination Policy
A private school in Florida is now requiring all students who get vaccinated against COVID-19 to quarantine for 30 days before returning to class.
According to the local Miami outlet WSVN, Centner Academy wrote a letter to parents last week describing COVID vaccines as “experimental” and citing anti-vaccine misinformation.
“If you are considering the vaccine for your Centner Academy student(s), we ask that you hold off until the Summer when there will be time for the potential transmission or shedding onto others to decrease,” the letter reportedly stated.
“Because of the potential impact on other students and our school community, vaccinated students will need to stay at home for 30 days post-vaccination for each dose and booster they receive and may return to school after 30 days as long as the student is healthy and symptom-free.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has debunked the false claim that those newly vaccinated against COVID-19 can “shed” the virus.
According to the agency’s COVID myths page, vaccine shedding “can only occur when a vaccine contains a weakened version of the virus,” but “none of the authorized COVID-19 vaccines in the United States contain the live virus that causes COVID-19. This means that a COVID-19 vaccine cannot make you sick with COVID-19.”
In fact, early research has suggested that vaccinated people are less likely to spread the virus than unvaccinated people.
Beyond that, unvaccinated people are more likely to spread COVID in general because they are much more likely to get the virus than vaccinated people. According to recently published CDC data, as of August, unvaccinated people were six times more likely to get COVID than vaccinated people and 11 times more likely to die from the virus.
Centner Academy Continues Spread of Misinformation
In a statement to The Washington Post Monday, Centner Academy co-founder David Centner doubled down on the school’s new policy, which he described as a “precautionary measure” based on “numerous anecdotal cases that have been in circulation.”
“The school is not opining as to whether unexplained phenomena have a basis in fact, however we prefer to err on the side of caution when making decisions that impact the health of the school community,” he added.
The new rule echoes similar efforts Centner Academy has made that run counter to public health guidance and scientific knowledge.
In April, the school made headlines when its leadership told vaccinated school employees that they were not allowed to be in contact with any students “until more information is known” and encouraged employees to wait until summer to get the jab.
According to The New York Times, the following week, a math and science teacher allegedly told students not to hug their vaccinated parents for more than five seconds.
The outlet also reported that the school’s other co-founder, Leila Centner, discouraged masking, but when state health officials came for routine inspections, teachers said they were directed in a WhatsApp group to put masks on.
See what others are saying: (WSVN) (The Washington Post) (Business Insider)
Katie Couric Says She Edited Ruth Bader Ginsburg Quote About Athletes Kneeling During National Anthem
Couric said she omitted part of a 2016 interview in order to “protect” the justice.
Kate Couric Edited Quote From Justice Ginsburg
In her upcoming book, journalist Katie Couric admitted to editing a quote from Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg in 2016 in order to “protect” Ginsberg from potential criticism.
Couric interviewed the late justice for an article in Yahoo News. During their discussion, she asked Ginsburg about her thoughts on athletes like Colin Kaepernick kneeling for the national anthem to protest racial inequality.
“I think it’s really dumb of them,” Ginsburg is quoted saying in the piece. “Would I arrest them for doing it? No. I think it’s dumb and disrespectful. I would have the same answer if you asked me about flag burning. I think it’s a terrible thing to do, but I wouldn’t lock a person up for doing it. I would point out how ridiculous it seems to me to do such an act.”
According to The Daily Mail and The New York Post, which obtained advance copies of Couric’s book “Going There,” there was more to Ginsburg’s response. Couric wrote that she omitted a portion where Ginsburg said the form of protest showed a “contempt for a government that has made it possible for their parents and grandparents to live a decent life…Which they probably could not have lived in the places they came from.“
Couric Says She Lost Sleep Making Choice
“As they became older they realize that this was youthful folly,” Ginsberg reportedly continued. “And that’s why education is important.“
According to The Daily Mail, Couric wrote that the Supreme Court’s head of public affairs sent an email asking to remove comments about kneeling because Ginsburg had misspoken. Couric reportedly added that she felt a need to “protect” the justice, thinking she may not have understood the question. Couric reached out to her friend, New York Times reporter David Brooks, regarding the matter and he allegedly likewise believed she may have been confused by the subject.
Couric also wrote that she was a “big RBG fan” and felt her comments were “unworthy of a crusader for equality.” Because she knew the remarks could land Ginsburg in hot water, she said she “lost a lot of sleep” and felt “conflicted” about whether or not to edit them out.
Couric was trending on Twitter Wednesday and Thursday as people questioned the ethics behind her choice to ultimately cut part of the quote. Some thought the move showed a lack of journalistic integrity while others thought revealing the story now harmed Ginsburg’s legacy.
See what others are saying: (New York Post) (The Daily Mail) (Insider)
Biden Administration Orders ICE To Halt Workplace Raids
The Department of Homeland Security will now focus on targeting employers who exploit undocumented workers, instead of carrying out raids that dissuade those workers from reporting labor violations.
DHS Reverses Worksite Raid Policy
The Biden administration announced Tuesday that it was ordering Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to stop workplace raids.
The move marks a reversal from Trump administration policies that have been strongly criticized by immigration activists who argue the efforts created fear in immigrant communities and dissuaded them from reporting labor violations or exploitative employment practices.
In addition to stopping the raids, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a memo that the administration will refocus enforcement efforts to instead target “employers who exploit unauthorized workers, conduct illegal activities or impose unsafe working conditions.”
Mayorkas added that the immigration agencies housed in DHS will have the next 60 days to identify harmful existing policies and come up with new ones that provide better deportation protections for workers who report their employers.
In the Tuesday memo, the secretary argued that shift of focus will “reduce the demand for illegal employment by delivering more severe consequences to exploitative employers” and “increase the willingness of workers to report violations of law by exploitative employers and cooperate in employment and labor standards investigation.”
Labor Market Implications
The new policy comes at a time when the U.S. is experiencing a critical labor shortage, including in many sectors that rely on immigrant labor.
Some companies that use undocumented workers pay them wages that are far below the market rate, which is not only exploitative but also undercuts competitors.
According to Mayorkas, the pivot to employer-based enforcement will help protect American businesses.
“By exploiting undocumented workers and paying them substandard wages, the unscrupulous employers create an unfair labor market,” he said in the memo. “They also unfairly drive down their costs and disadvantage their business competitors who abide by the law.”
It is currently unclear how effective the new efforts will be, but historical precedent does not paint an optimistic picture.
The Biden administration’s efforts closely mirror a similar move by the Obama administration, which attempted to reverse workplace raids authorized under President George W. Bush by targetting those who employ undocumented workers rather than the workers themselves.
That effort, however, still led to thousands of undocumented workers being fired.