Fact check: Did Florida county commissioner propose a blow dryer cure for coronavirus?

Melanie Payne
Fort Myers News-Press

Claim: A county commissioner in Florida touts a bizarre way to kill COVID-19

A Facebook post shows a video clip that purports to be a county commissioner in Florida espousing a widely debunked theory that the coronavirus can be killed by inhaling hot air.

Bryant H. Culpepper, Okeechobee County Commissioner  District 2.

Bad advice at an Okeechobee commissioners meeting

About a half-hour into the March 20 emergency meeting to address the COVID-19 pandemic, Okeechobee County Commissioner Bryant Culpepper launched into a discussion of how to kill the deadly virus by using a blow dryer up the nose.

Culpepper said that because the nasal passages and nasal membranes were “the coolest part of the body,” the virus settled there before going to the lungs. Heating up those nasal passages will kill COVID-19, he said. And to do that, you could take a blow dryer, hold it up to your face and inhale.

This wasn't something from social media, Culpepper said, because “there’s a lot of baloney out there on social media."

Culpepper then went on to cite what he said was the source of the information, one of the “foremost doctors that has studied the coronavirus,” appearing on a One America News Network news program. 

It turns out that Culpepper got that wrong too, according to One America News Network. 

"One America News has done a thorough review of all on-air, social media, and website content. We have also asked staff to track down any possible association between the statements made by the official and One America News Network. We are unable to find any association between the statements made by the municipal official and One America News Network," the company wrote in a press release.

The company said it did post a story on its website on March 18 "that debunks a number of false methods to kill the Coronavirus, including the use of a hand dryer."

More:Fact check: What's true and what's false about coronavirus?

But when the Lake Okeechobee News published an article about Culpepper’s claims, he went to social media to tout it. “Great article for those that don’t have medical insurance,” he wrote in a Facebook post.

The World Health Organization on its "myth buster" web page states that hand dryers will not kill the coronavirus. If hot air can't kill the virus on your hands, why would it work any better up your nose? Moreover, doctors from a variety of specialties have pointed out that using a dryer up your nose will not kill coronavirus and could lead to burns and other damage.

A day later, Culpepper was back on social media, apologizing, kind of.

He didn't back off the blower-dryer-up-the-nose prophylactic but said he was sorry for responding to comments he should have ignored.

“I was only trying to give comfort to those in Okeechobee who have no insurance to treat there (sic) families,” he wrote. “I will not offer anymore (sic) suggestions unless they are tried and proven. I ask for All of your forgiveness for anything offensive that I uttered during these exchanges. God Bless and soften your hearts.”

Our rating: True

The video clip that's circulating is from the nearly hourlong meeting, and the commissioner's statements are accurately recorded. We rate the claim as TRUE.

Our fact-check sources:

Editor's note: This story has been updated to include a response from One America News Network.