State Governors say Trump needs to watch what he says

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APRIL 26, 2020

Michigan’s and Maryland’s governors said the president should watch what he says, especially about injecting disinfectants. People are listening to his direction.

President Donald Trump suggested at his Thursday briefing that disinfectants could work as a coronavirus treatment if taken internally, drawing immediate criticism from medical professionals and cleaning product manufacturers, like Lysol. A day later, Trump said he never meant his remarks to be taken seriously: “That was done in the form of a sarcastic question to the reporters.”

On Sunday, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, said on ABC’s “This Week” that whether or not Trump was being serious, his suggestion had an impact.

Whitmer said she saw an increase in numbers of people calling poison control and issued yet another warning: “Please don’t do it. Just don’t do it.”

Hogan, whose emergency management agency sent an alert after Trump’s comments, said “hundreds of calls” had been made to the state’s hotline asking if ingesting Clorox or alcohol cleaning products would help fight coronavirus.

“People listen to these press conferences,” Hogan said. “They certainly pay attention when the president of the United States is standing there giving a press conference … when misinformation comes out or you just say something that pops in your head, it does send a wrong message.

He added, “We had to put out that warning to make sure that people were not doing something like that, which would kill people.”

Banner-Herald via AP A package of Lysol disinfectant wipes on a shelf at a store in Athens, Ga. – Joshua L. Jones/Athens

Whitmer, in a separate interview, said basically the same thing: “When the person with the most powerful position on the planet is encouraging people to think about disinfectants, whether it was serious or not, people listen.”

The president’s disinfectant comments came on the heels of his tamping down promotion of hydroxychloroquine, an-anti malaria drug Trump had repeatedly said could help cure coronavirus. However, over the past week, several studies revealed that the drug isn’t helping Covid-19 patients and can have deadly side effects.

Trump has now decided to pare back his appearances at coronavirus briefings, which aides and allies have been trying to make happen for weeks. On Friday, the president spoke for less than 30 minutes and took no questions. On Saturday, he went dark.

“The president’s got to focus on the message, stick to the message and make sure that these press conferences are fact-based,” Hogan said. “We saw a different kind of a press conference yesterday, which I think may be showing that there’s going to be a different trend in the future.”

The governors on Sunday also rejected Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s suggestion that states should be able to declare bankruptcy during the pandemic, rather than having the federal government provide more money. Congress has so far passed several bipartisan relief packages, with the latest one allocating nearly half a trillion dollars for hospitals, small businesses and testing.

Whitmer called McConnell’s comments “dangerous,” and said default wasn’t an option for Michigan, where officials have been “incredibly smart stewards.”

“For Senator McConnell to suggest that is incredibly dangerous and I don’t think that the vast majority of governors in this country, Republican and Democratic, would agree with him,” she said. “He’s wrong and we need Congress to step up and help states.”

Hogan, the chairman of the National Governors Association, agreed. He said the association has for over a month been pushing to get $500 billion to states.

“I thought Mitch McConnell probably would regret making those — that comment the other day. I think it just slipped out,” he said. “But I’m hopeful that we will be able to convince Senator McConnell to go along with the bipartisan bill in the Senate and the administration’s commitment to help the states.”

 

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