Globally, there’s been no limit to the level of disruption caused by the spread of coronavirus, from shuttered businesses to restricted air travel. While these interruptions can cause financial harm, there can be immediate health consequences as a result of limiting one activity in particular—blood drives.
The Red Cross has seen roughly 1500 blood drives canceled due to concern over gatherings and the risk of transmission of the viral illness. That’s created a deficit of 16,000 donations nationally. If this continues, the Red Cross has cautioned that a serious blood shortage might occur.
“We need people to start turning out in force to give blood,” Peter Marks, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research said in a statement. “We need people to prevent the blood supply from getting depleted. We need it to not get to the point that surgeries are having to get canceled. That’s something we absolutely do not want to have happen. To ensure an adequate blood supply we need people to come out and donate blood.”
As a result, the organization is calling upon healthy Americans to schedule an appointment to donate blood and offering assurances that this very necessary act of medical charity is safe for everyone involved.
According to the Red Cross, no data exists that indicates coronavirus can be transmitted via blood transfusion. For donors, it’s important to understand that the organization is taking every precaution to minimize the risk during the donation process. In addition to enhanced disinfecting protocols at donation sites, prospective donors are being screened for symptoms of possible illness, including temperature checks, before being allowed into a collection area.
In the United States, a patient is treated with a blood transfusion every two seconds, making a reliable supply crucial. If you’d like to help, you can enter your ZIP code at the Red Cross website to find a local donation center.