Georgia has also seen a rise in cases of children ingesting chemicals because their parents, distracted while working from home, left them unattended around unsecured bottles of fluid and medicines, Lopez said. Overall, poison calls have risen 9 percent this year.
The CDC recommends, with precautions, cleaning and disinfecting high-touch surfaces to prevent the spread of COVID-19. But the number of calls to poison centers has spiked this year for exposure to cleaners and disinfectants, the CDC said. SPECIAL
Asked about Trump’s comments last week, Lopez lamented in an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that too many people were interpreting news reports to mean that Trump had recommended injecting disinfectants, when in fact he was only asking questions about the possibility of such a treatment.
On Thursday Bill Bryan, head of the Department of Homeland Security’s science and technology division, had just presented research indicating coronavirus can’t survive for long in direct sunlight or in warm, humid conditions. Trump first floated the idea of blasting the human body with ultraviolet light, then he asked about disinfectant.
“And then I see the disinfectant, where it knocks it out in a minute,” Trump said. “One minute. And is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning. 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.”
A White House press secretary later said Trump's comments had been taken "out of context" by the news media, and Trump himself later said he was only being "sarcastic." Still, Trump faced rebuke from medical professionals and congressional lawmakers, and his comments prompted the distributor of Lysol to issue a press release warning that "under no circumstance should our disinfectant products be administered into the human body (through injection, ingestion or any other route)."
Reports of accidental poisonings involving household cleaners and disinfectants have increased 20 percent this year as more people have purchased bleach, sanitizers and other products to clean their homes amid the COVID-19 outbreak, according to CDC statistics. SPECIAL
Lopez noted that living through a pandemic can be especially difficult for the mentally ill.
On Saturday, he said, a man in his 50s living southwest of Atlanta was hospitalized after drinking several ounces of bleach “to prevent Covid.” He was moved to a psychiatric ward before being discharged.
“He said that he took 16 ounces,” the director said. “I don’t know very many patients who will take 16 ounces, but then again, it is a psych history patient.”
On Sunday, a man in his 30s who lives in the Atlanta area ingested a mixture of Pine-Sol, mouthwash, beer and pain medications. He also has since been discharged.
Lopez said he could not release further details about the cases because of patient confidentiality concerns. The Georgia Poison Center learned of both cases after receiving calls from hospitals.
“We don’t ask the question of, was it because they watched a TV show?” Lopez said. “We are just told, ‘What do we do for these patients?’ And it’s our job to try to give them treatment advice to make sure these patients make it.”
Because of the increase in calls during the pandemic, U.S. Health and Human Services has awarded nearly $5 million to poison centers nationwide to improve response capabilities. The Georgia Poison Center will receive $148,000.