Reports Of Bleach And Lysol Drinking Increase Day After Trump 'Sarcastically' Suggests It
Once upon a time, many years ago, Donald Trump opined that he could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot someone, and not lose any followers. He was not wrong about that. As we have learned, there is basically nothing he can do to lose the support of his base. If he does something they don't like, they'll change their opinion on it and swear they always felt that way. If he does something seemingly indefensible or says something obviously wrong, they will twist themselves into knots trying to defend it or find a way for him to actually be right. If he says to drink Lysol, goddamnit, they will get out their finest shot glasses and go to town.
And, it won't just be because they believe him, but because they feel they have a solemn duty to prove him right against his "haters."
As such, in the days following Trump's remarks about ingesting or injecting household cleaners in order to cure COVID-19, poison control centers have reported an uptick in people doing just that. WNBC reports that New York City's Poison Control Center got about 30 calls regarding exposure to these products in the hours following the presser — 10 calls about bleach, nine calls about Lysol, and 11 regarding other household cleaners. Luckily, none of these calls resulted in death or hospitalization.
Last year, on the same day, they got 13 such calls. That's a pretty big increase!
Of course, because people are often stupid on their own, without any help from Donald Trump, the CDC reported this week that there has been an all-over 20 percent increase in reports of people ingesting bleach, Lysol and other household cleaners since the beginning of the pandemic.
CDC graphs showing increase in exposures to cleaners and disinfectants reported to poison control centers.
The CDC reported:
The daily number of calls to poison centers increased sharply at the beginning of March 2020 for exposures to both cleaners and disinfectants (Figure). The increase in total calls was seen across all age groups; however, exposures among children aged ≤5 years consistently represented a large percentage of total calls in the 3-month study period for each year (range = 39.9%–47.3%) (Table). Further analysis of the increase in calls from 2019 to 2020 (3,137 for cleaners, 4,591 for disinfectants), showed that among all cleaner categories, bleaches accounted for the largest percentage of the increase (1,949; 62.1%), whereas nonalcohol disinfectants (1,684; 36.7%) and hand sanitizers (1,684; 36.7%) accounted for the largest percentages of the increase among disinfectant categories. Inhalation represented the largest percentage increase from 2019 to 2020 among all exposure routes, with an increase of 35.3% (from 4,713 to 6,379) for all cleaners and an increase of 108.8% (from 569 to 1,188) for all disinfectants. Two illustrative case vignettes are presented to highlight the types of chemical exposure calls managed by poison centers.
Now, sure, a lot of this can be explained away by the fact that we are simply using these products more, but some of it is also just people doing stupid shit with these products — like this case cited by the CDC in which a woman attempted to bleach her groceries.
An adult woman heard on the news to clean all recently purchased groceries before consuming them. She filled a sink with a mixture of 10% bleach solution, vinegar, and hot water, and soaked her produce. While cleaning her other groceries, she noted a noxious smell described as "chlorine" in her kitchen. She developed difficulty breathing, coughing, and wheezing, and called 911. She was transported to the emergency department (ED) via ambulance and was noted to have mild hypoxemia and end-expiratory wheezing. She improved with oxygen and bronchodilators. Her chest radiograph was unremarkable, and she was discharged after a few hours of observation.
Yeah ... don't do that. Even if you don't get sick from inhaling the bleach, you'll get sick from eating produce that has been soaked in it. Bleach is not edible.
It would be one thing if Donald Trump were the only moron in this country who would go to the well of "Oh, maybe drink Lysol?," but he is not. There are people who will go to that well all on their own. However, having a president who would suggest such a thing (even if he later claims he was being "sarcastic"), makes things a lot worse.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse