COVID-19 severe blood shortage; Red Cross drives canceled; fewer donations

The American Red Cross is facing a severe blood shortage due to an unprecedented number of blood drive cancellations during this coronavirus outbreak, the agency said Tuesday.

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

The Red Cross issued the following alert:

Through March 16, nearly 2,700 Red Cross blood drives have been canceled across the country due to coronavirus concerns, resulting in some 86,000 fewer blood donations.

• Workplaces, college campuses and schools are canceling their blood drives as these locations temporarily close and more people are being told to work remotely and practice social distancing.

• We are expecting cancellations to continue to increase, which is causing heightened concern for blood collection organizations and hospitals across the country.

We understand why people may be hesitant to come out for a blood drive, but want to reassure the public that we have implemented additional precautions to ensure the safety of our donors and staff in response to concern, 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, and

• Increasing enhanced disinfecting of surfaces and equipment. We also want to emphasize that 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.

This blood shortage could impact patients who need surgery, victims of car accidents and other emergencies, or patients suffering from cancer. One of the most important things you can do to ensure we don’t have another health care crisis on top of the coronavirus is to give blood.

As a nation, this is a time where we must take care of one another, including those most vulnerable among us. If you are healthy and feeling well, please make an appointment to donate as soon as possible by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).


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