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A basket of smaller bottles of hand sanitizer for sale in Washington, D.C. in early March. Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

Hand sanitizer is everywhere because of the coronavirus, but that has led to an unexpected side effect: a big spike in calls to poison control hotlines from parents whose children have ingested hand sanitizer.

Why it matters: Hand sanitizer products are 60–70% ethyl alcohol, which can be toxic to young children even in small amounts.

By the numbers: The number of inquiries to the online Poison Control portal have doubled since the fall, said Dr. Kelly Johnson-Arbor, medical toxicologist and co-medical director at the National Capital Poison Control Center.

  • The portal is receiving an average of 12 online hand sanitizer-related queries a day, she said.
  • Hand sanitizer-related phone inquiries are up 22% over the past two weeks, compared to the same period last year, for the National Capital Poison Center, which covers D.C., Northern Virginia, and Montgomery and Prince George's counties in Maryland.

What to watch: The absolute numbers may seem small, but Johnson-Arbor said she expects to see them continue to rise as school closures keep kids at home, where they'll likely have access to hand sanitizer products.

  • "You'll have a lot more children at home among the toxic products that are already there," Johnson-Arbor said. "It's on the counter now and more readily available."

Between the lines: Some hand sanitizers are infused with scents, which can prompt curious children to taste them. While the bitter taste will discourage most kids from ingesting too much, just a teaspoon or a few squirts can be dangerous for toddlers and babies, Johnson-Arbor said.

  • Homemade hand sanitizers can also be dangerous.

If someone is dizzy, drowsy or acting odd after ingesting hand sanitizer, it's probably best to head to an emergency room.

More information: WebPoisonControl.org or call 1-800-222-1222.

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Trump impeachment trial to start week of Feb. 8, Schumer says

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Photo: The Washington Post via Getty

The Senate will begin former President Trump's impeachment trial the week of Feb. 8, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced Friday on the Senate floor.

The state of play: Schumer announced the schedule after reaching an agreement with Republicans. The House will transmit the article of impeachment against the former president late Monday.

1 hour ago - Health

CDC extends interval between COVID vaccine doses for exceptional cases

Photo: Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty

Patients can space out the two doses of the coronavirus vaccine by up to six weeks if it’s "not feasible" to follow the shorter recommended window, according to updated guidance from the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention.

Driving the news: With the prospect of vaccine shortages and a low likelihood that supply will expand before April, the latest changes could provide a path to vaccinate more Americans — a top priority for President Biden.