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Red Cross faces severe blood shortage as coronavirus outbreak threatens availability of supply

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SOUTHEAST WISCONSIN — The American Red Cross now faces a severe blood shortage due to an unprecedented number of blood drive cancellations in response to the coronavirus outbreak. Healthy individuals are needed now to donate to help patients counting on lifesaving blood.

Individuals can schedule an appointment to give blood with the Red Cross by visiting RedCrossBlood.org, using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, calling 1-800-RED-CROSS or enabling the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device.

According to the Red Cross, in the Wisconsin/Iowa Region, 67 blood drives have been canceled, resulting in 2,596 fewer blood donations. The Red Cross is adding appointment slots at donation centers and expanding capacity at many community blood drives across the country over the next few weeks to ensure ample opportunities for donors to give.

“I am looking at the refrigerator that contains only one day’s supply of blood for the hospital,” said Dr. Robertson Davenport, director of transfusion medicine at Michigan Medicine in Ann Arbor. “The hospital is full. There are patients who need blood and cannot wait.”

The Red Cross has implemented new measures to ensure blood drives and donation centers are even safer for our donors and staff, including:

• Checking the temperature of staff and donors before entering a drive to make sure they are healthy.
• Providing hand sanitizer for use before the drive, as well as throughout the donation process.
• Spacing beds, where possible, to follow social distancing practices between blood donors.
• Increasing enhanced disinfecting of surfaces and equipment.

At each blood drive and donation center, Red Cross employees already follow thorough safety protocols to help prevent the spread of any type of infection, including:

• Wearing gloves and changing gloves with each donor.
• Routinely wiping down donor-touched areas.
• Using sterile collection sets for every donation.
• Preparing the arm for donation with an aseptic scrub.

Volunteer donors are the only source of blood for those in need:

The Red Cross expects the number of cancellations to continue to increase, which is causing heightened concern for blood collection organizations and hospitals across the country. This blood shortage could impact patients who need surgery, victims of car accidents and other emergencies, or patients suffering from cancer.

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