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Red Cross urges blood donations amid COVID-19 concerns

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RUTLAND — The American Red Cross on Tuesday issued a call for blood donations to prevent shortages in the blood supply as concerns about the outbreak of COVID-19 rise in the U.S.

The Red Cross urged healthy, eligible individuals who are feeling well to make arrangements to give blood or platelets by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting redcrossblood.org, calling 800-733-2767 or enabling the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device. Blood donors with type O blood and platelet donors are especially needed right now.

In Windham County, blood drives will be held in Brattleboro today, from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Fraternal Order of the Eagles, 54 Chickering Drive, Unit 1; in Bellows Falls on March 19, from noon to 5 p.m. at the United Church of Bellows Falls, 8 School St.; and in Townshend on March 21, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Leland and Gray Union Middle High School, 2042 VT Route 30.

"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, Red Cross Blood Services.

"As fears of 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."

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The Red Cross said that donating blood is a safe process and people should not hesitate to give or receive blood. There are no data or evidence that this coronavirus can be transmissible by blood transfusion, and there have been no reported cases worldwide of transmissions for any respiratory virus, including this coronavirus, from a transfusion.

The Red Cross only collects blood from people who are healthy and feeling well at the time of donation, and who meet other eligibility requirements, available at redcrossblood.org. At each blood drive and donation center, Red Cross employees follow thorough safety protocols including wearing gloves, routinely wiping down donor-touched areas, using sterile collection sets for every donation, and preparing the arm for donation with an aseptic scrub. These measures help ensure the safety of blood recipients, donors and staff.

There are no data or evidence that this coronavirus can be transmissible by blood transfusion, the Red Cross said, and there have been no reported cases worldwide of transmissions for any respiratory virus including this coronavirus, from a transfusion.

Still, the Red Cross has implemented new blood donation deferrals out of an abundance of caution. Individuals are asked to postpone their donation for 28 days following travel to China and its special administrative regions, Hong Kong and Macau, as well as Iran, Italy and South Korea; and diagnosis of COVID-19, contact with a person who has or is suspected to have the virus.

A blood donation takes about an hour from start to finish, but the actual donation itself only takes about 8-10 minutes.


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