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Red Cross: Blood supply nearly depleted, donors needed during coronavirus pandemic

Medics take the temperatures of all blood donors before anyone is approved to enter a Red Cross blood drive, with social distancing in place.

FAIRFAX, Va. — The American Red Cross is now working on a day-by-day basis with a critical shortage of blood donations, a cruel consequence of the coronavirus pandemic. Thousands of blood drives nationwide have canceled, as states implement restrictions on social gatherings.

But the disaster relief and humanitarian organization sounded the alarm Wednesday, urging communities, church groups and the corporate world to reconsider canceling blood drives.

Instead, from the American Red Cross operations center in Fairfax County, officials issued a clarion call for millions to help, as more and more hospitals begin to feel the pressure of the pandemic.

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"We’ve had 4,000 blood drives cancel, and that equates to about 100,000 uncollected units of blood," Regina Boothe Bratton, a Red Cross spokesperson, said. "And the more important number is the number of patients who are going to be impacted – that will be around 300 patients who are going to be affected by that deficit." 

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The Red Cross says there is no evidence coronavirus can be transmitted through blood transfusions. Medics take the temperatures of all blood donors before anyone is approved to enter a Red Cross blood drive, with social distancing in place.

Illustrating the gravity of the crisis, the organization nearly ran out of blood at its Fairfax hub this week, with a rebound in supply by late Wednesday.

"We were at that point today, but luckily today, we’ve had about 30 donors who’ve come in and answered the call," Boothe Bratton said. "I understand there is a lot of concern, and the government is talking about unnecessary travel, and unnecessary activities. This, is a necessary activity." 

To find your closest American Red Cross blood drive, click here.

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