President Donald Trump has been determined to talk his way through the coronavirus crisis, but his frequent misstatements at his daily news conferences have caused a litany of public health and political headaches for the White House.

On Friday, Trump sought to clean up his briefing room riff from the day before about the possibility of fighting coronavirus infecton in patients with chemical disinfectant or sunlight -- a dangerous idea that doctors and a manufacturer of cleaning products felt obliged to publicly warn against.

Trump said he had “sarcastically” suggested Americans be injected with disinfectant. The president’s new spokeswoman also sought to clarify his remarks.

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“President Trump has repeatedly said that Americans should consult with medical doctors regarding coronavirus treatment, a point that he emphasized again during yesterday’s briefing,” the press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, said in a statement. “Leave it to the media to irresponsibly take President Trump out of context and run with negative headlines.”

Trump’s most public response to the U.S. coronavirus outbreak has been the extended news conferences he holds every day, including most weekends, to talk about it. He pulled off his 2016 election upset and survived the Russia investigation and impeachment in part due to his ability to dominate media coverage. But the president has never been known as a detail-oriented leader and his off-the-cuff briefings have left many Americans distrustful of what he says.

Just 23% of Americans consider Trump a trustworthy source of information on the virus, while 52% trust their state and local leaders, according to poll published Thursday by the Associated Press and NORC at the University of Chicago.

Trump’s Questions
Trump’s remarks on Thursday followed a presentation by a Department of Homeland Security undersecretary, Bill Bryan, who showed White House reporters new research indicating the virus wouldn’t survive as long on nonporous surfaces in higher temperatures and humidity. The research suggested summer heat could help temper the U.S. outbreak, at least temporarily, although places in warm climates such as Singapore are still battling their own outbreaks.

After Bryan’s presentation, Trump chimed in, off script.

“So I asked Bill 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 just very powerful light -- and I think you said that that hasn’t been checked, but you’re going to test it,” Trump said. “And then I said, 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 to test that too. It sounds interesting.”

Bryan responded: “We’ll get to the right folks who could.”

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