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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

Go deeper

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Ipsos poll: COVID trick-or-treat.
  2. World: Greece tightens coronavirus restrictions as Europe cases spike — Austria reimposes coronavirus lockdowns amid surge of infections
  3. Economy: Conference Board predicts economy won’t fully recover until late 2021.
  4. Technology: Fully at-home rapid COVID test to move forward.
  5. States: New York rolls out new testing requirements for visitors.

Trump: Coronavirus is "under control"

President Trump said in an interview with “Axios on HBO” that he thinks the coronavirus is as well-controlled in the U.S. as it can be, despite dramatic surges in new infections over the course of the summer and more than 150,000 American deaths.

  • “They are dying, that's true. And you have — it is what it is. But that doesn't mean we aren't doing everything we can. It's under control as much as you can control it. This is a horrible plague,” he told Axios' Jonathan Swan.

Fauci: Schools can reopen with safeguards, but those in virus hot spots shouldn't

Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, at Capitol Hill in July. Photo Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images

NIAID director Anthony Fauci said Monday schools and colleges should be able to reopen for in-person classes, but they must take precautions to ensure the safety of students and teachers during the pandemic, per CNN.

Of note: Students benefit psychologically from being in a classroom, Fauci said. The American Academy of Pediatrics has advocated for in-person classes resuming, noting in a statement the mental health benefits of doing so. "[T]here is already evidence of the negative impacts on children because of school closures in the spring of 2020."