President Donald Trump has made more headlines than usual in recent days after he seemed to suggest that injecting household disinfectants could be a possible cure for coronavirus. And now, a Republican group is using the president's own words against him.
While talking about how light and disinfectant can kill coronavirus on surfaces, President Trump stated on in Thursday's coronavirus briefing: "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'd be interesting to check that. So you're going to have to use medical doctors."
Going back to using light and heat to treat coronavirus and pointing to his head, President Trump remarked: "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."
Trump then asks Dr. Deborah Birx if she had heard of people using light and heat as treatment, to which she replied that she hadn't.
President Trump has since claimed that the comment was sarcastic. "I was asking a question sarcastically to reporters like you just to see what would happen," Trump told reporters on Friday.
"I was asking a sarcastic — and a very sarcastic question — to the reporters in the room about disinfectant on the inside," the president continued. "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."
Now, the conservative group Republicans for the Rule of Law (RRL) will highlight those comments in a national advert during Fox & Friends on Thursday. In the ad, the group will call Trump "unfit, unwell, unacceptable" to be president.
"50,000 people have died and this is our president," text on the advert reads, then cutting to President Trump making the now-infamous comments. The advert then brands Trump as "unfit, unwell, unacceptable."
The advert also highlights the reaction of Dr. Birx, which went viral on social media.
Sarah Longwell, a spokeswoman for RRL told Newsweek: "It's dangerous for the President to use the global reach of his press conferences to speculate wildly about untested cures for coronavirus."
"Instead," Longwell continued, "he should focus on the more than 50,000 Americans who lost their lives, and coordinating a federal response to the pandemic that includes widespread testing and ensuring our hospitals and healthcare workers have the equipment they need to save lives. America deserves better leadership."
Following backlash over his comments, Trump only spoke for a short amount of time during Friday's press briefing and did not take questions from the press. Over the weekend, no briefings were held, though one was held on Monday.
"What is the purpose of having White House News Conferences when the Lamestream Media asks nothing but hostile questions, & then refuses to report the truth or facts accurately," Trump wrote over the weekend. "They get record ratings, & the American people get nothing but Fake News. Not worth the time & effort!"
What is the purpose of having White House News Conferences when the Lamestream Media asks nothing but hostile questions, & then refuses to report the truth or facts accurately. They get record ratings, & the American people get nothing but Fake News. Not worth the time & effort!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 25, 2020
The comments also prompted a response from Lysol and Dettol maker Reckitt Benckiser Plc which stated that “under no circumstance” should their range of disinfectants be administered to the human body.
“As with all products, our disinfectant and hygiene products should only be used as intended and in line with usage guidelines,” Reckitt added.
Poison control hotlines across the nation have also seen a rise in calls since Thursday.
New York City's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene told NPR that the recorded 30 cases in 18 hours after Trump's comments, a higher number than usual.
Department spokesperson Pedro F. Frisneda said that nine were "specifically about exposure to Lysol, 10 cases specifically about bleach and 11 cases about exposures to other household cleaners." That's more than double the 13 total cases that the department dealt with during the same time frame one year ago.
"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," the city's health commissioner said in a recorded message addressed to New Yorkers.
During Monday's briefing, Trump said that he "can't imagine why" this is happening.
The best way to prevent contracting or spreading coronavirus is with thorough hand washing and social distancing. If you feel you may be experiencing symptoms of coronavirus, which include persistent cough (usually dry), fever, shortness of breath, and fatigue, please call your doctor before going to get tested. For comprehensive resources and updates, visit the CDC website. If you are experiencing anxiety about the virus, seek out mental health support from your provider or visit NAMI.org.