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Blood stocks low in hospitals after thousands of drives are canceled

Contributions of blood are down sharply locally and across the country because drives have been canceled amid coronavirus concerns, according to the American Red Cross, which is seeking healthy people to come to centers to donate.

About 2,700 drives at workplaces, schools and elsewhere have been canceled since the start of the outbreak, reducing the number of people who donating by 86,000.

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Officials from the Red Cross, a nonprofit that supplies about 40% of the nation’s blood, says they understand public hesitancy to donate or to even leave home. But stocks are low.

The group says it has taken extra precautions to protect donors and staff.

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“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,” said Chris Hrouda, president of Red Cross Biomedical Services, in a statement. “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 is asking people to make an appointment at a center by going to RedCrossBlood.org or calling 1-900-RED-CROSS.

Before people enter a center, staff and volunteers will be checked for fever. They will be given hand sanitizer for use throughout the donation. Beds will be spaced. All surfaces will be regularly disinfected. Staff will change gloves between volunteers and use sterile collection sets and aseptic scrub on people’s arms.

There is no evidence that coronavirus can be transmitted through blood transfusion.

“Volunteer donors are in a unique position to ensure essential medical care continues for those who depend on lifesaving transfusions, such as surgical patients, accident victims, new moms with complicated childbirths, patients going through cancer treatment and more,” said Regina E. Boothe Bratton, a spokeswoman in the Greater Chesapeake and Potomac Region, in a statement.

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