White House says media took Trump remarks on coronavirus treatments 'out of context'

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Friday defended President TrumpDonald John TrumpFive takeaways from Trump-Biden debate clash The Memo: Debate or debacle? Democrats rip Trump for not condemning white supremacists, Proud Boys at debate MORE for asking whether disinfectant could be used to treat the coronavirus and accused the media of taking the president's remarks 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 issued Friday morning.

“Leave it to the media to irresponsibly take President Trump out of context and run with negative headlines,” she added.

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Trump has come under mounting scrutiny from the medical community following Thursday's coronavirus task force briefing, during which he mused about the possibility of light or disinfectant being used to treat patients with the coronavirus. 

The remarks came after William Bryan, a top science official at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), presented research showing that the virus deteriorates more quickly when exposed to sunlight, high temperatures and humidity and said that bleach and isopropyl alcohol each kill the virus within minutes.

Trump suggested that medical experts should study the use of light or disinfectant as a treatment for the disease. 

“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. “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 going to test that too. It sounds interesting.”

“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 almost a cleaning,” Trump continued. “Because you see it gets in the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs. So it would be interesting to check that.”

Bryan, who serves as DHS undersecretary for science and technology, later said that the department would not inject patients with bleach or isopropyl alcohol in its lab when asked about Trump’s idea.

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Trump then sought to clarify his remarks, saying it wouldn’t be “through injection” but “almost a cleaning, sterilization of an area.” 

Deborah Birx, the doctor who is coordinating the federal response to the coronavirus, later said that heat or light had not been used as a treatment for patients with COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, when Trump asked for her opinion on the idea.

The president’s remarks about disinfectants, in particular, have inspired broad pushback, with medical experts strongly warning against injecting or consuming household disinfectants to treat the disease.

“There's no circumstance under which you should take a disinfectant, or inject a disinfectant for the treatment of anything and certainly not the treatment of coronavirus,” Scott Gottlieb, Trump’s former Food and Drug Administration commissioner, said in an interview with CNBC Friday.

“There is absolutely no circumstance in which that is appropriate and it can cause death and very adverse outcomes,” Gottlieb said.

The manufacturer of Lysol also issued a statement warning against any internal use of its products in a statement issued Friday.