Hair dryer suggestion starts social media frenzy

Commissioner apologizes for online remarks

OKEECHOBEE — At the March 20 meeting of the Okeechobee County commissioners, Commissioner Bryant Culpepper started a social media frenzy when he referenced a program he claimed he saw on One American News Network about the coronavirus.

“One of the things that was pointed out in this interview with one of the foremost doctors who has studied the coronavirus said that the nasal passages and the nasal membranes are the coolest part of the body. That’s why the virus tends to go there until it then becomes healthy enough to go into the lungs.

“This sound really goofy, and it did to me, too, but it works,” he explained. “Once the temperature reaches 136 degrees Fahrenheit, the virus falls apart — it disintegrates. I said how would you get the temperature up to 136 degrees? The answer was you use a blow dryer. You hold a blow dryer up to your face and you inhale through your nose and it kills all the viruses in your nose.

“So that sounds like a really simplified way of doing things, but sometimes the cures for these diseases are very simple.

“Also, if you are worried about it going into your lungs, because that’s where it goes to turn into pneumonia, you can put a pan of water on the stove until it turns into steam and inhale it. It sounds too easy, but at this point, it’s worth trying.”

“There is lots of misinformation out there,” said Tiffany Collins of the Okeechobee County Health Department. She said people should rely on the advice of their own doctors and not something they see online.

According to the World Health Organization website, hair dryers are not effective in killing the COVID-19 virus.

Doctors trying to debunk this story that has made the rounds on YouTube, Facebook and other social media have also pointed out that pointing the hair dryer on high heat at your face could irritate your skin, eyes, nose and mouth.

Friday’s meeting suggestion was not the first time Commissioner Culpepper has offered a suggestion fighting the COVID-19 virus.

At the March 17 meeting, he suggested using ozone to kill the virus.

“My son has discovered something that is totally a game changer,” he said. “There is a website online and those of you that hunt … there is a device that hunters use because deer can smell the scent of a human, and they do that because of the bacteria.

“What they have developed is a small device, nano ozone, that you wear on your clothing and it actually sends out an ozone vapor that goes approximately three meters completely around your body. Any type of virus, coronavirus, whatever virus you choose, regular cold virus, can be killed by this ozone.

“Most of the time when you have a problem, there is usually a cure, and it’s usually technology,” he said.

At the March 18 meeting, Commissioner Culpepper suggested putting ozone devices in the county van that transports veterans to the Veterans Administration Hospital in West Palm Beach.

At all of the meetings, Commission Chairman Terry Burroughs urged the public to get their medical information in regard to the coronavirus from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Florida Department of Health, or their own health care providers.

The meetings were broadcast live and the video archived on the Okeechobee County Commission website. It didn’t take long for some who saw the meeting online to start commenting on social media. Over the weekend, the commissioner got into heated arguments with community members on social media over the hair dryer suggestion, and during these discussions, he used language some found offensive.

In a Facebook post on Sunday, March 22, Commissioner Culpepper issued an apology: “To all my Facebook friends, I am heartfully sorry for comments I made on social media. I was only trying to give comfort to those in Okeechobee who have no insurance to treat their families. I should have ignored the comments that I perceived as hateful and the embarrassment I caused to my fellow commissioners and our administrator.”

Fueled by thousands of shares on social media, the story was picked up — and clips from the March 20 Okeechobee County Commission meeting shown — first on the coastal Florida television stations, then on national media. By Monday, the story had been even picked up by media in England.

According to OAN, Commissioner Culpepper did not get the hair dryer information from them.

One America News issued the following statement, “OAN is aware of a statement made by a municipal official claiming that a hair dryer may kill the coronavirus. 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.

“On Wednesday, March 18, One America News Network did exhibit a news article from a major news aggregator on our website, www.oann.com, that debunks a number of false methods to kill the Ccoronavirus, including the use of a hand dryer. In other words, OAN debunked the claim that heat can kill the coronavirus in an impacted person.”

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.

Facebook Comment