If the Republican response to the coronavirus pandemic has indicated nothing else, it has indicated the possibility that a lot of white people were not practicing good hygiene pre-COVID. I started to suspect this during the early stages of the health crisis when scores of color-redacted people were adamant in inphasizing the importance of washing one’s hands regularly and scores of melanin-rich people were like: “Wait, have y’all not been washing your hands regularly this whole time?”
And now, here I am wondering if conservative America is just now discovering the hygienic properties of mouthwash.
Let me back up a bit.
During a town hall meeting on Wednesday, Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson (but not that Ron Johnson…although he sure as hell appears to live in A Different World) suggested gargling mouthwash as a viable treatment for COVID-19.
“Standard gargle, mouthwash, has been proven to kill the coronavirus,” Johnson said. “If you get it, you may reduce viral replication. Why not try all these things?”
Bruh, what do you mean “try” mouthwash? Are these people just now discovering Listerine? How were they keeping their breath fresh before now? Is this why so many of them are anti-maskers? Is it all because their breath smells like rotten bananas and the inside of MAGA hats and they just don’t want to breathe it back into their own nostrils?
Anyway, according to the Washington Post, Johnson also shared a study on Twitter where researchers tested asymptomatic people who tested positive for COVID and concluded that mouthwash provides “modest benefits” in lowering viral loads in saliva—which, obviously, is a far cry from Johnson’s claim that “mouthwash has been proven to kill the coronavirus.”
Kim Woo-Joo, an infectious-disease expert at Korea University, told the Post that even if it’s true that mouthwash can reduce viral infection that occurs in the mouth, it really doesn’t matter because most infections occur through the nose.
“Even if gargling kills some of the virus, it won’t be able to clean the nasal area, nor the viruses that’s already penetrated deeper into the body,” Woo-Joo said.
Raymond Niaura, interim chair of the epidemiology department at New York University, told the Post that gargling mouthwash would help—as long one does it while getting themselves vaccinated.
“That way, one would be at reduced risk for infection and have good-smelling breath,” he said. (That was definitely shade if you couldn’t tell.)
Because of people like Johnson—who clearly did not benefit from a quality education at the prestigious school of Hillman—Listerine felt the need to include in bold letters on its website that its mouthwash “is not intended to prevent or treat COVID-19 and should be used only as directed on the product label.”
So basically, Johnson is mostly wrong, and his breath probably stinks.