President Donald Trump said he “can’t imagine why” calls to hotlines about using disinfectant to treat Covid-19 have spiked, days after he suggested that it could be injected or ingested to counter the virus.
Pressed on his comments last week – which drew a whirlwind of pushback and criticism from political rivals, state governors and even the manufacturer of Lysol – Trump expressed bemusement that his remarks might have put American lives at risk.
Hundreds of calls
During yesterday’s White House press conference, a reporter said that Maryland’s emergency hotline had received hundreds of calls in recent days seeking guidance about Trump’s explosive comments.
“I can’t imagine why,” the president responded brusquely. “I can’t imagine that.” Asked whether he took any personal responsibility for the increase in calls, Trump added: “No, I don’t.”
Trump made the remarkable assertions at a briefing on Thursday, having been presented with the results of US government research which reportedly demonstrated that coronavirus could be killed in minuted by bleach.
“I see the disinfectant where it knocks it out in a minute. One minute,” he said. “And is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning?”
“One of the worst days in one of the worst weeks of his presidency”
According to the New York Times, the ensuing furor caused despairing White House aides to label the incident as “one of the worst days in one of the worst weeks of his presidency”.
Seeking to defuse the row, Trump told journalists on Friday: “I was asking a question sarcastically to reporters like you just to see what would happen.”
Over 55,000 Americans have been killed by coronavirus thus far – comfortably more than any other country – with the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the US approaching one million.
“I think we’ve made a lot of really good decisions”
In a press conference on Monday afternoon, Trump shrugged off the mounting death toll, arguing that his administration’s actions had prevented the figure from being far higher.
He said: “Yeah, we’ve lost a lot of people. But if you look at what original projections were, 2.2 million, we’re probably heading to 60,000, 70,000.
“It’s far too many. One person is too many for this. And I think we’ve made a lot of really good decisions.”