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American Red Cross faces blood shortages, blood drive cancellations amid coronavirus concerns

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

BOISE, Idaho — The American Red Cross is facing a dramatic blood shortage as the number of blood drives and donations continue to decrease amid nationwide coronavirus outbreaks. 

According to a news release from American Red Cross, around 2,700 blood drives were unexpectedly cancelled as a result of coronavirus outbreaks, meaning there have been nearly 86,000 fewer blood donations.

More than 80% of the blood collected by American Red Cross is collected during blood drives, according to the news release. These blood drive cancellations have been the result of concerns regarding large groups of people congregating in a common area.

“We know that people want to help, but they may be hesitant to visit a blood drive during this time. We want to assure the public that blood donation is a safe process, and we have put additional precautions in place at our blood drives and donation centers to protect all who come out,” said Chris Hrouda, president of Red Cross Biomedical Services.

The Red Cross is adding additional appointment times for donors to give blood and expanding capacity at numerous blood drives around the country to ensure that willing donors are able to give blood.

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According to the news release, Red Cross anticipates that blood drives will continue to be cancelled as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases continue to increase. 

“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,” Hrouda 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.”

In an effort to keep patients and donors safe will continuing to gather blood for patients in need, the Red Cross has implemented several precautionary measures at blood drives, according to the news release.

According to the American Red Cross, these measures include:

  • 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.

Those who are willing and able to donate blood are being encouraged by Red cross to schedule and appointment by visiting the Red Cross website, using the Red Cross Blood Donor app, or locating your local Red Cross facility by calling 1-800-RED-CROSS.

At KTVB, we’re focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the virus. To see our full coverage, visit our coronavirus section, here: www.ktvb.com/coronavirus.

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