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American Red Cross in need of blood donors during coronavirus outbreak

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Posted at 6:09 AM, Mar 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-17 06:09:32-04

The American Red Cross is facing a severe blood shortage due to a record number of blood drive cancellations across the country in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

The organization reports that nearly 2,700 planned blood drives have been canceled nationwide, resulting in 86,000 fewer blood donations.

Concerns over gathering at work places, college campuses and schools -- where over 80 percent of Red Cross blood drives are held -- has been the driving force behind the cancellations.

In Michigan, approximately 160 blood drives have been canceled, resulting in more than 5,000 fewer blood donations being made.

In an effort to bring out donors, the Red Cross says it is adding appointment slots at donation centers and expanding capacity at many community blood drives across the nation over the next few weeks.

The hope is that the changes will provide ample opportunities for donors to give.

The Red Cross says blood shortages can impact a wide variety of patients, including those needing surgery, people injured in car crashes and other incidents, and cancer patients, among others.

"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 of 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 put new measures in place to make sure its blood drives and donation centers are safe for both donors and staff.

These measures include checking the temperature of staff and donors before they enter a drive; providing hand sanitizer; spacing beds when possible; and increasing enhanced disinfecting of surfaces and equipment.

Find out more about how and where to donate by visiting redcross.org.