MINNEAPOLIS — In his coronavirus press conference Thursday, President Trump looked to Dr. Deborah Birx, his Coronavirus Response Coordinator, and made a comment regarding disinfectants as a possible coronavirus treatment.
"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," Trump said.
Within 24 hours, the Minnesota Poison Control hotline got a call from someone asking where he could buy a cleaning product that would be "safe" to use "internally."
"From a poison control standpoint, there is absolutely no safe way to use household cleaning products or bleaches internally," said Dr. Jon Cole, the medical director for the Minnesota Poison Control System.
Cole said calls concerning bleach and other disinfectants are already way up this year because of coronavirus and all the stay-at-home orders.
But there still was a nationwide spike of another 10% in the days following the President's comments, compared to earlier in the week.
"I was asking a question sarcastically to reporters like you to see what would happen," Trump said the following day, when asked to explain his comment.
Regardless of the president's intentions, Cole says they see real impacts when anyone with a big media presence suggests something potentially dangerous.
"Certain folks hear it in a way that could be dangerous to them if they were to act on it," Cole said.
Dr. Cole says there is no question too silly for the Poison Control Center - and they are glad they get calls like that before people do something dangerous. Their service is free and confidential -- and the number to call is 1-800-222-1222
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The state of Minnesota has set up a hotline for general questions about coronavirus at 651-201-3920 or 1-800-657-3903, available 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. There is also a data portal online at mn.gov/covid19.