Thursday, April 23, 2020

What did Donald Trump do today?

He showed off his medical acumen.

As of today, Trump has appeared at 42 "briefings" on the coronavirus since March. These briefings have generally lasted between 90 minutes and two and a half hours, and have become sort of surrogate campaign rallies. He has been obsessed with the TV ratings for them, which are high because all major news networks pre-empt their normal programming to air them. But Trump, who is frequently confused about basic medical facts, has been running out of things to say.

Today, riffing on his medical experts' commentary about how long the virus could live on surfaces in direct sunlight or after being cleaned with bleach or rubbing alcohol, Trump said this:

A 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 very powerful light. And I think you said that hasn’t been checked, but you’re going test it. 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 test that too. Sounds interesting. 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 almost a cleaning. Because you see it gets in the lungs and it does a tremendous number in the lungs. It would be interesting to check you’re going have to use medical doctors with that, but it sounds interesting to me. And so we’ll see. But the whole concept of the light, the way it kills it in one minute, that’s pretty powerful.

To be clear, Trump spent part of the coronavirus task force briefing today speculating that bleach, injected into a human body under a doctor's care, might be a coronavirus cure.

Injecting bleach, isopropyl alcohol, or other cleaning agents is almost certainly fatal. (For the record, while light therapy is indeed used for certain kinds of disorders, it cannot cure viral infections.)

Trump's medical musings are not harmless. An Arizona man died and his wife was hospitalized after they took a veterinary medicine containing choloroquine, a drug Trump urged people to take for weeks on shaky evidence that it might help treat COVID-19. Subsequent studies have suggested it is not helpful and may increase deaths.

Why does this matter?

  • People who seriously entertain the idea that shooting up bleach might cure an illness, even for a moment, are too cognitively challenged to be President of the United States.