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The Environmental Protection Agency warned Americans not to “ingest disinfectant products” on Friday after President Trump seemingly suggested they could combat the novel coronavirus that way a day earlier.
The EPA, in a release, urged Americans to pay attention to directions for EPA-registered surface disinfectants. Meanwhile, the president on Friday insisted he was being "sarcastic" with his comments a day earlier.
“Never apply the product to yourself or others,” the release said. “Do not ingest disinfectant products.”
The EPA added that those products include “never applying any product” on the agency’s list of disinfectants “to use against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, directly to food.”
“Never mix products unless specified in the use directions,” they wrote. “Certain combinations of chemicals will create highly toxic acids or gases.”
“The EPA is dedicated to its mission of protecting human health and we want all Americans to have access to effective and approved surface disinfectant products,” EPA assistant administrator of the EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, Alexandra Dapolito Dunn, said in a statement Friday.
“We also want everyone to follow the directions on the product so that we can safely use registered disinfectants and provide critical protection to our families,” she added.
The warning comes after Trump on Thursday during the White House Coronavirus task force briefing suggested that light and disinfectants may have the potential to treat COVID-19.
The original comments were made when Bill Bryan, the head of the science and technology directorate at the Department of Homeland Security, presented the findings of the federal government's study on sunlight, humidity and temperature's effect on the coronavirus -- as well as various disinfectants on the virus when it is on surfaces. Trump then reacted to the comments.
"Question that probably some of you are thinking of if you're totally into that world, which I find to be very interesting. So supposing we hit the body with a tremendous, whether it's ultraviolet or just very powerful light. And I think you said that hasn't been checked but you're going to test it," Trump said, looking over to Bryan.
"And then I said, supposing you brought the light inside the body, which you can do either through the skin or in some other way. And I think you said you're gonna test that, too. Sounds interesting, right?”
He continued: "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, or almost a cleaning? Because you see it gets on the lungs and it does a tremendous number, so it will be interesting to check that. So that you're going to have to use medical doctors. But it sounds, it sounds interesting to me. So we'll see.
"But the whole concept of the light, the way it kills it in one minute, that's, that's pretty powerful.”
Trump was hammered on social media and in a number of publications for the comments, including with one Washington Post headline that read, "Trump asked if disinfectants could be injected to kill coronavirus inside the body. Doctors answered: ‘People will die.’" The comments even prompted a statement from Reckitt Benckiser Group, the makers of Lysol, warning against improper use of disinfectant products.
After Trump's initial comments, in which he did suggest there might be a way to "do something like that by injection inside or, or almost a cleaning" after changing the topic from light to disinfectants -- though he made clear it was not a definitive recommendation -- and said "medical doctors" should be involved in any tests, a reporter asked Bryan to clarify what the president said.
"The president mentioned the idea of a cleaner. Is the bleach and isopropyl alcohol he mentioned, there's no scenario that could be injected into a person, is there?" the reporter asked.
"No, I'm here to talk about the findings that we had in the study. We don't do that within that lab, at our labs," Bryan responded.
The White House defended the president’s comments on Friday, with press secretary Kayleigh McEnany claiming that they were “taken out of context.”
“President Trump has repeatedly said that Americans should consult with medical doctors regarding coronavirus treatment, a point that he emphasized again during yesterday’s briefing,” McEnany said in a statement. “Leave it to the media to irresponsibly take President Trump out of context and run with negative headlines.”
As of Friday, the U.S. reported more than 871,200 cases of COVID-19 and more than 50,100 deaths.
Fox News' Tyler Olson contributed to this report.