U.S. President Donald Trump answers questions in the press briefing room with members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force April 3, 2020 in Washington, DC.

  • President Donald Trump mused aloud that experts should look into the possibility of treating the coronavirus with ultraviolet light in the body and injecting disinfectants during a coronavirus press briefing last week.
  • The president later claimed the suggestion was sarcastic.
  • Officials in Maryland and Michigan reported a spike in calls to emergency hotlines following Trump's comments. Illinois also saw a spike in calls to poison control centers.
  • When asked if he claimed responsibility for the spike in poison control calls, Trump said he "can't imagine why" it happened.
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President Donald Trump says he "can't imagine why" there was a spike in calls to emergency hotlines and poison control centers after he suggested injecting household cleaners could be a coronavirus cure.

"I see the disinfectant where it knocks [the coronavirus] out in a minute," Trump said during the coronavirus press briefing. "One minute. And is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning? So it'd be interesting to check that."

When asked about the comment at a later press briefing in the Oval Office, the president later claimed that the recommendation was sarcastic for reporters to "see what they would do" when reporting.

Trump's so-called sarcasm apparently didn't translate to some. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer reported a spike in calls to emergency hotlines following Trump's sarcastic suggestion during the coronavirus press briefing, CNN reported.

Illinois also saw a spike in calls to poison control centers, including incidents in which someone used a "detergent-based solution for a sinus rinse" and another "gargling with a bleach and mouthwash mixture to kill germs," according to the CNN report.

"I can't imagine why," Trump said in response to the question. When the reporter asked if the president claimed responsibility for the spike in calls, Trump said, "No, I don't," before moving on to the next question.

A number of health experts and disinfectant companies tweeted last week to correct the suggestion, reminding the public not to ingest cleaners like bleach as a treatment for the coronavirus.

The company behind popular disinfectants like Lysol and Dettol also issued its own statement in response.

"We must be clear that under no circumstance should our disinfectant products be administered into the human body (through injection, ingestion or any other route)," Reckitt Benckiser said in a statement, adding, "We have a responsibility in providing consumers with access to accurate, up-to-date information as advised by leading public-health experts."

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