There they go again.  The media has completely abrogated any semblance of journalistic integrity since President Trump was elected. Further evidence occurred this week after Trump engaged in some characteristic thinking out loud during a coronavirus briefing; the media rushed to spread as widely as possible their—wildly inaccurate—interpretation of his comments.

It takes a special kind of derangement-enhanced stupid to imagine that the president of the United States was recommending that Americans gulp down cups of bleach and mainline Lysol.  I mean, come on. Who on earth would think such a thing?  Oh, right.

I understand the makers of Clorox and Lysol coming out with announcements that people should not inject or otherwise ingest their household cleaning products; they had to respond to the media’s and Democrats’ wild misstatement of what Trump had stated.  As is typical of the irresponsible media, they were spamming the internet with their “take” on what Trump said, so if anyone were to blame for a spike in poison control calls and emergencies, it would be the media.

However, much to their likely disappointment, masses of Americans are not intentionally ingesting toxic household cleaning chemicals. Though, you wouldn’t know it from the headlines:

Vice: “Poison Control Centers Have Been Extra Busy Since President Trump Suggested Injecting Bleach Can Cure Coronavirus”
Daily Beast: “Calls About Bleach Poisonings Double in NYC After Trump Touts Quack Coronavirus Cure”
NBC: “‘Significant Increase’ in Calls to Illinois Poison Control After Trump Disinfectant Remarks
WCIA: “Two in Illinois call Poison Control after Trump COVID briefing”
New York Daily News: “A spike in New Yorkers ingesting household cleaners following Trump’s controversial coronavirus comments”

Looking at the text of just the last two articles, there is nothing in the body of the posts that comes close to supporting the alarming headlines.

Two whole people in Illinois called the poison control hotline after the Trump briefing? The link is clear, right? They heard him, ran to the laundry room, and guzzled them some bleach. According to their own “report,” however, there is no clear link between the briefing and the calls. Did these two callers even watch? That part is mysteriously not reported.

Further, again according to their own report, the chemicals were likely inhaled or small amounts were accidentally ingested in some way, though it is not reported how they misused the cleaning products, and, significantly, poison control calls have been on an uptick for at least a month.

Two people in Illinois had “inappropriate exposure” to disinfectants after President Trump’s COVID-19 briefing Thursday.

Illinois Poison Control told WCIA calls were made to the IPC hotline after the people used the products incorrectly.

But Danny Chun with IPC says this isn’t exactly new. Calls to the hotline have increased 36-percent during the pandemic.

He says people have been using products, including bleach, to wash their hands and produce.

Chun stressed you should “never eat, swallow or ingest” any disinfectant or cleanser and the products should only be used as directed.

That’s it, the rest of the story is about Trump’s comments. So where in here is there any evidence—or even the hint of a whiff of a suggestion—that the two callers had a single thing to do with Trump?

The same shoddy “reporting” occurs in the New York Daily News piece, as well. Here’s the part they are trying to pin on Trump:

The Poison Control Center, a subagency of the city’s Health Department, managed a total of 30 cases of possible exposure to disinfectants between 9 p.m. Thursday and 3 p.m. Friday, a spokesman said.

None of the people who reached out died or required hospitalization, the spokesman said.

But compared to last year, the number of cases was worthy of a double-take.

According to data obtained by The News, the Poison Control Center only handled 13 similar cases in the same 18-hour period last year.

Moreover, out of the cases reported between Thursday and Friday, nine were specifically about possible exposure to Lysol. Ten were in regards to bleach and 11 about household cleaners in general, the spokesman said.

Of course there are more calls during this period this year than there were during the same period last year . . . when we were not in the midst of a global pandemic. I’d be more interested in the same period the day before or the week before, or even back in January/February when people began using more household cleaners to stave off the coronavirus.

The title says “ingesting,” yet the article itself speaks of “possible exposure” and does not make any assertion that any of these callers mentioned ingesting the chemicals or of doing so because Trump told them to. This article doesn’t even mention that some people have apparently been washing their produce with bleach or Lysol (!?) since the outbreak began, so where did “ingesting” come from?

The uptick in chemical exposure and reactions to household cleaning agents began in January and really spiked in March, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

To assess whether there might be a possible association between COVID-19 cleaning recommendations from public health agencies and the media and the number of chemical exposures reported to the National Poison Data System (NPDS), CDC and the American Association of Poison Control Centers surveillance team compared the number of exposures reported for the period January–March 2020 with the number of reports during the same 3-month period in 2018 and 2019.

Fifty-five poison centers in the United States provide free, 24-hour professional advice and medical management information regarding exposures to poisons, chemicals, drugs, and medications. Call data from poison centers are uploaded in near real-time to NPDS. During January–March 2020, poison centers received 45,550 exposure calls related to cleaners (28,158) and disinfectants (17,392), representing overall increases of 20.4% and 16.4% from January–March 2019 (37,822) and January–March 2018 (39,122), respectively. Although NPDS data do not provide information showing a definite link between exposures and COVID-19 cleaning efforts, there appears to be a clear temporal association with increased use of these products.

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.

Over at Reason, they show how the media has been fudging this information across the board.

A story out of Kentucky that’s being shared as “evidence” people have been consuming household cleaners following Trump’s Thursday statements is actually about calls to Kentucky poison control centers in March.

“Poison control centers around the country, including here in Kentucky, are seeing a spike in calls related to COVID-19,” says the WDRB.com story. Ashley Webb, director of the Kentucky Poison Control Center, told the outlet that “just in March, we saw about a 30% increase in hand sanitizer exposures and about a 50% increase in household cleaners.”

A similar spike in calls to poison control centers has been seen in many states. But these boosts all started in March, as people began using more household disinfectants to try and stave off the new coronavirus, and not just last week.

So, no, there has not been a spike in poison control calls that have been linked to Trump’s comments.  There is, however, stark evidence of media malpractice.

This is the fourth of my Media Hoaxes posts.

 

 
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