Trump spent much of his Thursday White House briefing contradicting his health experts and bashing the media, particularly around his suggestion that scientists should investigate whether they could inject COVID-19 coronavirus patients with light or disinfectants as a treatment.
- Bill Bryan, undersecretary for Science and Technology at the Director of Homeland Security shared "emerging" findings that increases in humidity and ultraviolet rays as well as common disinfectants like bleach kill the virus on nonporous surfaces and in the air faster, emphasizing they were "ongoing" studies.
- Trump began throwing out hypothetical ideas of “bringing the light inside the body” or using disinfectants "by injection inside or almost a cleaning," though Dr. Deborah Birx, one of the health experts on the task force, later said she had not heard of applying light or heat “as a treatment” for the coronavirus.
- After Trump said, “Maybe you can, maybe you can't, I'm not a doctor,” Philip Rucker of the Washington Postcountered by saying, “You’re the president,” and people tuning in aren't “looking for rumor,” to which Trump responded: “I’m the president and you're fake news.”
- When asked about Dr. Anthony Fauci, also part of the coronavirus task force, and his comments Thursday that the U.S. needs to "ramp up not only the number of tests but the capacity to actually perform them,” Trump said, “I don't agree with him."
- Trump also denied that he had stopped promoting hydroxychloroquine as a coronavirus treatment, following new guidelines from Fauci's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases emphasizing insufficient evidence and a study with military veterans that showed no benefits, the latter of which Trump claimed he had “not seen.”
- Trump continued to lash out at the media during the briefing: after Kaitlan Collins of CNN asked about Dr. Rick Bright and his allegations on Wednesday that his removal from the federal agency leading development of a vaccine was due to his skepticism around hydroxychloroquine, Trump refused to answer, saying, "CNN is fake news. Don’t talk to me.”
Dr. Vin Gupta, a pulmonologist and NBC News contributor, told the network: "This notion of injecting or ingesting any type of cleansing product into the body is irresponsible, and it’s dangerous. . . . It’s a common method that people utilize when they want to kill themselves.”
Experts like Fauci have warned not to assume that warmer weather will slow the spread of the coronavirus. The National Academy of Sciences, in a letter to the White House earlier this month, said the disease "may transmit less efficiently in environments with higher ambient temperature and humidity," but that in itself "may not lead to a significant reduction in disease spread.” States like Florida and Louisiana are some of the most severely impacted in the country thus far. The U.S. leads the world in confirmed coronavirus cases and reported deaths with 866,646 and 49,759, respectively.
While Trump repeated his claim that the country has enough tests, researchers at Harvard suggest that the country needs to perform up to three times as many tests it's currently doing before it can safely reopen.
Trump was also asked during the briefing about Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-Ky.) comments that states facing budget crises and asking for funding from the federal government should declare bankruptcy. Trump wouldn't commit to any plans but seemed to back up McConnell's assertion, saying “The states that seem to have the problem happen to be Democrat.” New York Governor Andrew Cuomo earlier in the day gave a strong rebuke, tweeting that New York contributes $116 billion more to federal tax revenue than it takes out, while McConnell's state of Kentucky takes $148 billion more than it puts in.