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Critical Blood Shortage in the U.S. amid Coronavirus Outbreak

Increase in Blood Drive Cancellations
Posted at 5:52 AM, Mar 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-18 08:43:32-04

While the impact of the coronavirus outbreak if being felt across the U.S. and the world, organizations that rely on blood donations are also feeling the effect.

It is a critical time for the American Red Cross that relies on a healthy supply of blood donations. The organization supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood.

"We want people to understand the importance of donating blood. Your blood will go to a new mom, it may go to a cancer patient, it may go to someone whose had an emergency accident," says Jan Hale, from the American Red Cross in Oklahoma.

The organization has seen almost 2,700 blood drive cancellations amid concerns about congregating at workplaces, college campuses and schools. These types of locations contribute to more than 80 percent of the organization's blood donations.

With the high number of cancellations the Red Cross is seeing, it is expecting to receive 86,000 fewer blood donations.

To try and combat this issue, the Red Cross is adding more appointment slots at their donation centers over the next few weeks. The organization is as also implementing new safety procedures amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

"Your temperature will be taken. Anyone with temperature over 99.5 will not be allowed to donate, and hand sanitizer, you must use hand sanitizer before you enter the drive," explains Hale, "We're also moving the beds, so that they are facing feet to feet where we can also increase social distancing."

She says there is is no data or evidence that the coronavirus can be transmitted by blood transfusion and that the procedure is safe.

The Oklahoma Blood Institute is also experiencing a loss of blood units after hundreds of blood drives have been canceled. According to OBI, more than a thousand donors are needed every day to meet the needs of regional hospitals.

The institute is urging healthy adults to donate blood during this time of uncertainty in the U.S.

For information on how to donate blood with the Oklahoma Blood Institute, visit their website, and for details to become a donor with the American Red Cross in Oklahoma, click here.

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