We all have those moments that live rent-free in our heads, regularly replaying while we try to fall asleep or take a shower. For Dr. Deborah Birx, that moment is when former President Donald Trump casually suggested Americans could inject bleach in order to treat COVID-19.
"Frankly, I didn't know how to handle that episode," Birx, the former White House coronavirus response coordinator, told ABC News on Monday. "I still think about it every day."
During a briefing last April, Trump said disinfectants like bleach can "knock" the coronavirus out "in a minute," and he wondered aloud if there is "a way we can do something like that by injection inside, or almost a cleaning, because you can see it gets in the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs, so it'd be interesting to check that."
As Trump spoke, a camera zoomed in on Birx. She told ABC News it was clear she was "extraordinarily uncomfortable," but she didn't say anything because after spending decades in the military, she knew "there are discussions you have in private with your commanding officers and there's discussions you had in public."
While Birx publicly stayed mum, several doctors and then-presidential candidate Joe Biden were quick to tell people to ignore Trump and put the Clorox down. Birx told ABC News she regularly spoke with Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country's top infectious disease expert, about "how to correct the record. I can't tell you how many discussions we had on, how do we get the message out realizing what's happening at the most senior levels of the White House."
Birx, who stepped down in December, told ABC News she applauds the Biden administration for having consistent messaging on COVID-19, and hopes Trump will start promoting vaccines. "I think it is important," she said. "But to every Trump supporter out there: Protect yourself, protect your family. Get vaccinated."