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American Red Cross faces blood shortage due to coronavirus outbreak

More than 6,000 Red Cross blood drives have been canceled across the country due to coronavirus concerns, resulting in about 200,000 fewer blood donations.

WASHINGTON — The Red Cross is facing a severe blood shortage due to an unprecedented number of blood drive cancellations in response to the coronavirus outbreak. 

Healthy individuals are needed now to donate to help patients counting on lifesaving blood.

As the coronavirus pandemic has grown across our country, blood drive cancellations have grown at an alarming rate. According to Red Cross officials, more than 6,000 Red Cross blood drives have been canceled across the country due to concerns about congregating at workplaces, college campuses, and schools amidst the coronavirus outbreak.

The blood drive cancellations have resulted in some 200,000 fewer blood donations, as more than 80% of the blood the Red Cross collects comes from drives held at locations of this type.

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The Red Cross is now adding appointment slots at donation centers and expanding capacity at many community blood drives across the country over the next few weeks to ensure ample opportunities for donors to give.

“In our experience, the American public comes together to support those in need during times of shortage and that support is needed now more than ever during this unprecedented public health crisis,” Chris Hrouda, president, Red Cross Biomedical Services said. “Unfortunately, when people stop donating blood, it forces doctors to make hard choices about patient care, which is why we need those who are healthy and well to roll up a sleeve and give the gift of life.”

The Red Cross has implemented new measures to ensure blood drives and donation centers are even safer for our donors and staff, including:

  • Checking the temperature of staff and donors before entering a drive to make sure they are healthy.
  • Providing hand sanitizer for use before the drive, as well as throughout the donation process.
  • Spacing beds, where possible, to follow social distancing practices between blood donors.
  • Increasing enhanced disinfecting of surfaces and equipment.

At each blood drive and donation center, Red Cross employees already follow thorough safety protocols to help prevent the spread of any type of infection, including:

  • Wearing gloves and changing gloves with each donor.
  • Routinely wiping down donor-touched areas.
  • Using sterile collection sets for every donation.
  • Preparing the arm for donation with an aseptic scrub.

Officials say that there is no data or evidence that this coronavirus can be transmitted by blood transfusion, and there have been no reported cases of transfusion transmission for any respiratory virus including this coronavirus worldwide.

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

“Volunteer donors are the unsung heroes for patients in need of lifesaving blood transfusions. If you are healthy, feeling well and eligible to give, please schedule an appointment to give now,” Hrouda said.

RELATED: Homeless population more vulnerable to COVID-19 exposure, experts say

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