After President Donald Trump’s Thursday comments regarding UV light and disinfectant went viral (with left-wing pundits and media outlets claiming he told people to inject themselves with disinfectant and drink bleach), multiple news agencies reported local spikes in calls to poison control. As with the inflated claims about what Trump said, the idea that people started injecting themselves with household cleaner were overblown and falsified.
For example, the New York Daily News reported there was an unusually high number of New Yorkers contacted city health authorities over fears that they had ingested bleach or other household cleaners in the 18 hours that followed President Trump’s bogus claim that injecting such products could cure coronavirus.”
As Reason’s Elizabeth Nolan Brown reported, however, that was not the case.
“[T]he article makes no mention of anyone deliberately consuming household cleaners. It simply states that 30 people called the city’s poison control hotline ‘over fears that they had ingested bleach or other household cleaners,’” Nolan Brown reported. “Fearing that you ingested something doesn’t jibe with having intentionally consumed that substance.”
Further, the Daily News reporters compare the number of calls this year to those during the same period last year – when people weren’t using household cleaners as stringently as they are now and thus not risking as much exposure.
“[O]ne needn’t do a detailed analysis to surmise why exposure to things like Lysol and bleach—and fears about this exposure—might be up this month over April 2019. And one needn’t reach for the ridiculous explanation that it’s because people deliberately consumed it en masse after listening to Trump. We are in the midst of a pandemic right now and we were not in April 2019. Of course more people are being exposed to household disinfectants at the moment than were during this time last year,” Nolan Brown wrote.
The Daily News also noted that no one died or needed to be hospitalized after calling into Poison Control, which Nolan Brown said suggested “their exposure was minimal and not of the Lysol-mouthwash variety.”
Other media outlets used the number of calls to Poison Control in March to knock Trump, Nolan Brown reported. An article from WDRB about a “spike” in calls to Poison Control was published the day after Trump’s comments, and while it doesn’t specifically mention those comments, it does include a video that tacks what Trump said onto the end of the same report. Further, the numbers included in WDRB’s report are from March, long before Trump’s April 23 briefing.
WCIA in Illinois also blamed Trump for two calls to the state’s Poison Control hotline for misusing cleaning products. The outlet mentioned Illinois Poison Control spokesperson Danny Chun flat out saying the calls were nothing new and that calls to the hotline had increased by 36% during the pandemic.
Fox 5 in Baltimore also decided to publish an article the day after Trump’s comments about an increase in calls to Poison Control, which included information from “the past six weeks.”
The CDC also released a report this week about increased exposure to harmful toxins through the increased use of household cleaners, and people have used the report to hit Trump, even though the CDC’s data stops at March 31, Nolan Brown reported.
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