Apr 26, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Birx: Trump's disinfectant comments were a "dialogue" between him and scientists

Deborah Birx, the White House's coronavirus response coordinator, said on CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday that it "bothers" her that the news cycle is still focused on President Trump's comments about disinfectants possibly treating coronavirus, arguing that "we're missing the bigger pieces" about how Americans can defeat the virus.

Why it matters: Clorox and Lysol, as well as health professionals and doctors across the country, responded to Trump's statement via social media and emergency hotlines to warn Americans that disinfectants should not be used to treat the coronavirus, the Washington Post and New York Times report.

The big picture: Birx, along with task force member and public health expert Anthony Fauci, has frequently been forced to tread lightly in correcting the president's falsehoods. In this instance, Trump's comments have received an outsized level of backlash due to the immense danger that can come from people ingesting disinfectant.

What she's saying: Birx claimed that Trump understood on Thursday that disinfectant should not be used as a treatment for the virus and that the president's suggestion was part of a "dialogue" between himself and scientists from the Department of Homeland Security about a new study.

  • "I think what got lost in there, which is very unfortunate, I think, in what happened next is — that study was critically important for the American people."
  • "We had an MIT study just from a few weeks ago that suggests that when people are talking and singing, aerosolized virus could be moving forward. What this study showed for the first time is that sunlight can impact that aerosolization outside."
  • "This is why we asked them to do it. We're trying to understand why people should be wearing masks. You're wearing masks because you could have asymptomatic infection and you'll decrease your transmission to others," she said.

CNN's Jake Tapper acknowledged the importance of the study on sunlight and disinfectant's impact on the coronavirus, but he pressed Birx on her "generous approach" to Trump's suggestion about ingesting "potentially dangerous" substances.

  • Birx responded by listing other coronavirus issues that people should be focused on, adding, "I think I've made it clear that this was a musing, as you described, but I want us to move on to be able to get information to American people that can help them protect each other."

Go deeper: Lysol maker refutes Trump's suggestion that disinfectants may treat coronavirus

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