Red Cross declares severe blood shortage

Coronavirus closures have greatly shriveled donations

By Ian Wheeler | iwheeler@scng.com @iwhlr on Twitter

The American Red Cross is facing a severe shortage of donated blood as thousands of drives across the country have been canceled amid concerns about spreading the coronavirus.

Despite new measures implemented by Red Cross staffers to prevent the spread of infection at blood drives, officials with the organization said this week the donation events that are key for supplying those in need of transfusions have been an unintended casualty as colleges and school campuses are emptied and companies have employees start working from home.

“Right now, there’s been a number of cancellations out of concern for the coronavirus, which is putting a strain on the blood supply,” said Christine Welch, communications manager for the Red Cross. “Blood drives are the only source of collecting blood for our hospital patients, so we need donors to come out and roll up their sleeve and help save lives.”

In Southern California, at least 260 drives had been canceled over the past week, resulting in an estimated 9,000 fewer donations of blood.

Welch said 80% of the blood the Red Cross collects comes from drives staged at workplaces, college campuses and schools.

In Southern California, campuses have been shut down since at least the end of last week.

But there are drives still scheduled to take place around Los Angeles and Orange counties and the Inland Empire, and many will have extended hours and walk-ins are welcome.

New safety protocols include staff members checking everyone’s temperature before entering a donation facility. Anyone with a temperature of 99.5 degrees or higher will be turned away, Welch said. Beds have been spaced farther apart, where possible, for social distancing, and hand sanitizer is provided throughout the process.

Employees already had worn new gloves and used sterile blood collection sets for each donor.

“We want to emphasize that blood drives are a controlled, sterile environment,” Welch said. “They’re not considered mass gatherings.”

The whole process, including prescreening, takes about an hour on average, she said.

To find a blood drive nearby, go to the Red Cross website, redcrossblood,org, and search by ZIP code or by city and state. Potential donors must be in good health and bring a blood donor card, a driver’s license or two other valid forms of identification.

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  • To Country: United States
  • From: 92570
  • User Alias: PostalBee
  • Posted On: 3/19/2020 1:15:17 PM
  • Expiration On: 4/18/2020 1:15:17 PM
  • Last Modified On: 3/19/2020 1:15:17 PM
  • Category: National News

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