ATLANTA - The American Red Cross regularly sees a drop in blood donations during cold and flu season.
But the coronavirus outbreak is threatening to exacerbate the annual shortfall.
In a 24-hour span, the Red Cross saw about 125 blood drive cancelations due to coronavirus fears, which resulted in nearly 3,500 uncollected donations.
That’s why the organization is asking for healthy and eligible individuals to donate blood.
“We’re asking the American people to help keep the blood supply stable during this challenging time. As communities across the country prepare for this public health emergency, it’s critical that plans include a readily available blood supply for hospital patients,” said Chris Hrouda, president of Red Cross Blood Services.
“As fears of the coronavirus rise, low donor participation could harm blood availability at hospitals, and the last thing a patient should worry about is whether lifesaving blood will be on the shelf when they need it most,” Hrouda said.
The Red Cross stresses that there is no evidence suggesting COVID-19 can be transmitted by blood transfusion.
Even so, they want those who have recently traveled to China, Iran, Italy and South Korea to postpone donations for 28 days.
They also want COVID-19 patients, those who’ve had contact with the infected and those suspected of having the disease to delay donating blood for 28 days.
Prospective donors can check their eligibility at RedCrossBlood.org.
Blood banks in Washington state have already felt the squeeze of the virus. According to Reuters, blood from outside the region had to be moved in to maintain the supply.
This story was reported from Atlanta.