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The White House on Friday accused the media of taking President Trump’s comments -- seemingly suggesting that disinfectants could combat the novel coronavirus -- “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,” White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said in a statement. “Leave it to the media to irresponsibly take President Trump out of context and run with negative headlines.”
McEnany’s statement comes after the president, during Thursday’s White House coronavirus task force briefing, suggested that light and disinfectants may have the potential to treat COVID-19.
After 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 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 president’s comments come as the country continues to grapple with the coronavirus crisis. As of Friday, the U.S. reported more than 869,000 cases of COVID-19 and more than 49,960 deaths.
Fox News' Tyler Olson and Kellianne Jones contributed to this report.