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No, Drinking Bleach Won’t Cure Coronavirus, Chicago’s Top Doctor Says

Putting bleach and other disinfectants on or in your body can even kill you, warned Dr. Allison Arwady, head of the Chicago Department of Public Health.

Damian Gadal/Flickr
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CHICAGO — Local officials are urging people not to drink or use disinfectant or bleach on their skin after President Donald Trump questioned if doing so could cure coronavirus.

Trump, speaking during a Thursday briefing on coronavirus, questioned if disinfectants could be injected into people or otherwise used to kill COVID-19. Now, doctors in Chicago and across the country are scrambling to tell people not to try that.

“I see the disinfectant that knocks it out in a minute, one minute,” Trump said. “And is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside, or almost a cleaning? Because you see it gets inside the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs, so it would be interesting to check that.”

Dr. Allison Arwady, head of the Chicago Department of Public Health, warned ingesting disinfectants or putting them on your skin can cause serious harm — or even death.

Arwady, speaking during a live stream, was asked by a viewer to address Trump’s comments. She said she didn’t think Trump meant for his comments to be taken as him saying disinfectants are a cure, but “the way it came out has the potential to be really dangerous.”

“Obviously, we’ve talked about on this show that we really want to make sure that any, any, anything that we put into our bodies is, first of all, designed for medical treatment or for human consumption,” Arwady said. “We absolutely, in no circumstances, do we want people trying to [use] bleach or Lysol or a disinfectant. It is dangerous.”

Arwady said Chicago does occasionally see people who ingest disinfectants, thinking it’ll be a “good idea.”

It’s not, she said.

“If you try to drink bleach or disinfect or put your body in it, it will do major, major damage to your insides and can cause death, in fact, fairly quickly,” Arwady said. “So, as we’ve said, no indication for ever putting household chemicals or disinfectants in your body, on your body.

“It does nothing to clean your body. It does nothing to help prevent COVID. It does nothing to treat COVID.”

Arwady said people should instead listen to scientists who are researching treatments for coronavirus.

“I will be the first to tell you when we have a treatment that has been shown to have promise in a scientifically proven way,” she said.

Trump has also been criticized for promoting a drug, hydroxychloroquine, as a potential treatment for coronavirus. The drug’s use for COVID-19 is unproven, with some research showing it might in fact prove deadly for people who are sick with coronavirus.

Gov. JB Pritzker warned last week people shouldn’t use hydroxychloroquine to treat coronavirus unless future research shows it is safe and effective.

Block Club Chicago’s coronavirus coverage is free for all readers. Block Club is an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom.

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