A number of prominent journalists and activists sought to blame President Donald Trump after an Arizona man drank fish tank cleaner to ward off the coronavirus and then died.
The unnamed man and his wife, both in their 60s, experienced immediate distress after swallowing chloroquine phosphate, an aquarium cleaning product, according to Banner Health Hospital in Phoenix. The wife, who Banner said was able to throw up much of the toxic substance, was in critical condition.
NBC News correspondent Heidi Przybyla was among those who suggested Trump was at fault for the couple’s decision because he had touted chloroquine as a possible treatment for COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the spreading coronavirus.
Nicholas Kristof, a liberal New York Times columnist, commented on Przybyla’s tweet: “Horrifying.”
— Nicholas Kristof (@NickKristof) March 24, 2020
Jon Favreau, a former aide to President Barack Obama turned host of “Pod Save America,” said Trump was “directly responsible” for the incident.
The President is directly responsible https://t.co/PYvxlfL7fa
— Jon Favreau (@jonfavs) March 24, 2020
However, conservatives on Twitter mocked their counterparts on the left for making what they deemed yet another ridiculous attempt to make Trump the source of all evil.
Julio Rosas, a senior writer for Townhall, said: “Once again, another narrative that is lacking critical context is being pushed by journos and other blue checks in an attempt to dunk on Trump, except this time they’re using a woman’s hospitalization and her dead husband to do so.”
Once again, another narrative that is lacking critical context is being pushed by journos and other blue checks in an attempt to dunk on Trump, except this time they're using a woman's hospitalization and her dead husband to do so. pic.twitter.com/4kglOhY3n7
— Julio Rosas (@Julio_Rosas11) March 24, 2020
“I’ve seen a lot of Orange Man Bad, but perhaps the worst yet is blaming Trump for someone eating FISH TANK CLEANER,” said Caleb Hull, a social media consultant.
Blogger Stephen Miller predicted a White House reporter would ask Trump about the man’s death at a a press briefing on the coronavirus outbreak.
A reporter in the WH press is going to ask Trump about the guy who drank a fishtank cleaner cocktail tomorrow and I’m not going to be able to contain myself.
— Stephen L. Miller (@redsteeze) March 24, 2020
What does Trump have to do with a man drinking chloroquine to fight coronavirus?
On Saturday, Trump tweeted about the combination of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin, saying it had “a real chance to be one of the biggest game changers in the history of medicine.”
The nation’s top infectious disease expert, Anthony Fauci, cautioned the therapy must be tested to assure its safety and efficacy.
“Chloroquine, a malaria medication, should not be ingested to treat or prevent this virus,” Banner Health said in a statement on Monday.
The new coronavirus, which causes the highly contagious COVID-19 respiratory illness, emerged in December in Wuhan, China and has spread throughout the world.
There are currently no vaccines or treatments approved for the disease, but researchers are studying existing treatments and working on experimental ones. At the moment, most patients can only receive supportive care.
“Given the uncertainty around COVID-19, we understand that people are trying to find new ways to prevent or treat this virus, but self-medicating is not the way to do so,” said Dr. Daniel Brooks, Banner Poison and Drug Information Center medical director.
Brooks urged the medical community to not prescribe chloroquine medication to any non-hospitalized patients.
“The last thing that we want right now is to inundate our emergency departments with patients who believe they found a vague and risky solution that could potentially jeopardize their health.”
(Reuters contributed to this report.)