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April 23, 2020
Contact: HHS Press Office
[email protected]

HHS Awards Nearly $5 Million to Poison Control Centers as Calls Spike Due to COVID-19

Today, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), awarded nearly $5 million to Poison Control Centers across the country to improve their capacity to respond to increased calls due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Today’s funding gives Poison Control Centers the support they need to field the significant increase in calls we’ve seen during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar. “Poison control centers are an easily accessible resource for Americans to protect their health, providing information about the risks of products they may be more likely to use to keep their households clean and loved ones safe during the pandemic. This funding secured by President Trump from Congress helps the dedicated medical professionals who staff Poison Control Centers continue their vital work.”

As more Americans heed cleaning recommendations to combat exposure to COVID-19, the nation’s Poison Control Centers are simultaneously seeing sharp increases in calls related to cleaners and disinfectants. In recently released CDC data, from January–March 2020, Poison Control Centers received 45,550 exposure calls related to cleaners (28,158) and disinfectants (17,392), representing overall increases of 20 percent and 16 percent from January–March 2019 (37,822) and January–March 2018 (39,122), respectively.

Similarly, HRSA’s own data indicate a 24 percent increase in calls to the Poison Help Line between January and March 2020. Providing additional resources to help Poison Control Centers respond to the spike in calls borne of the COVID-19 pandemic is yet another example of how this administration is building a robust response in the epic fight against this virus.

HRSA-funded Poison Control Program (PCP) award recipients may use these resources to increase outreach and education to reduce the risk of COVID-19 related poisonings and to enhance readiness and training to respond to and manage the increased calls related to COVID-19 related poisonings. The PCP was created to ensure access to Poison Control Center services.

“Americans count on the nation’s Poison Control Centers for accurate, reliable and around-the-clock information from trained medical professionals whose swift actions every day save lives,” said HRSA Administrator Tom Engels. “This investment will help these organizations reduce the risk of COVID-19 related poisoning.”

Funding for the PCP was provided through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Poison Control Centers are available 24 hours a day; every day of the year, through the HRSA-funded Poison Help line (1-800-222-1222). Staffed by medical professionals in a nationwide network, the Poison Control Centers provide telephone triage and treatment recommendations to the general public and health care providers across the United States, including American Samoa, District of Columbia, the Federated States of Micronesia, Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

For a list of today’s award recipients, visit: https://poisonhelp.hrsa.gov/about-us/coronavirus-cares-FY2020-awards

For more information about Poison Control Centers and the Poison Help line, visit https://poisonhelp.hrsa.gov/.

For more information about COVID-19, visit: http://coronavirus.gov/

Note: All HHS press releases, fact sheets and other news materials are available at https://www.hhs.gov/news.
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Last revised: April 23, 2020

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