TRENTON — New Jersey's top health official on Friday reminded people not to drink — or inject — disinfectants. The public service announcement came a day after the president of the United States suggested that doing so could be a treatment for COVID-19.

Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said that household disinfectants should be handled with caution and "certainly they should never be ingested or injected."

Persichilli then listed the serious consequences of ingesting such products, including vomiting blood, developing bloody stool and gastrointestinal pain as well as burns to the mouth and esophagus.

Earlier in the week, Persichilli had urged people to use gloves and ensure proper ventilation when cleaning their homes after the state's Poison Control hotline reported an increase in calls related to cleaning products.

The commissioner was forced to revisit the subject after Trump made the widely criticized and ridiculed comments on Thursday.

Trump on Friday walked back his own remarks by claiming that he had been speaking "sarcastically" and the White House insisted he had been taken out of context. But Trump gave no hint of sarcasm a day earlier while he was musing with White House pandemic coordinator Deborah Birx and Homeland Security science and technology official Bill Bryan.

“And is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning,” Trump said during the televised briefing. “Because you see it gets in the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs. So it would be interesting to check that. So, that, you’re going to have to use medical doctors with. But it sounds, it sounds interesting to me.”

The president of the company that makes Lysol put out a statement to make "clear that under no circumstance should our disinfectant products be administered into the human body (through injection, ingestion or any other route).”

Persichilli did not mention Trump by name, keeping with the Murphy administration's gingerly approach to handling the president since the pandemic crisis began in March.

On Friday, the state reported 253 new deaths, for a total of 5,617 related to COVID-19, the serious respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

Persichilli also reported that 244 of the state's 725 veterans home residents have developed COVID-19 and that 91 of them have died as a result.

The state also has cited three long-term care facilities, requiring them to hire consultants specializing in nursing, infection control and administrative oversight. The state has inspected 30 such facilities since last Thursday. Persichilli said 425 long-term care facilities have reported residents or staff with COVID-19.

Grocery store risks & safety

Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-359-5348 or email

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