Coronavirus Spread Prompts Calls for Blood Donations From San Diegans

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Both the San Diego Blood Bank and the American Red Cross are asking locals to consider donating blood in anticipation of what could be a decrease in supply as the novel coronavirus spreads across the region.

The Red Cross said a majority of their donations come from mobile drives held at businesses, churches, and schools. With the mandated closures of these institutions, The Red Cross is now limited to donations from people who will come to their donation centers.

People who go to a Red Cross Blood Center to donate will be checked for a fever and asked to use hand sanitizer at the entrance. Those will a fever of 99.5 or higher will not be allowed inside to donate.

80 percent of our blood drives happen in the community and those happen at colleges, universities and companies throughout the community. As they are taking precautions and closing shop, that has resulted in a loss of about 86 thousand uncollected units throughout the nation.

Christine Welch, Communications Manager for American Red Cross

While there is no known risk to the nation's blood supply, the San Diego Blood Bank is preparing for a possible decrease in their resources if travel is limited due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The San Diego Blood Bank -- which provides supply for San Diego, Imperial, Orange, and Los Angeles counties, tells NBC 7 their supply is critically low. Deliveries typically come via plane from across the country and if travel is suspended due to the coronavirus outbreak, local donations will be more critical than ever, according to the blood bank.

The agency is urging anyone who is able to donate, to schedule an appointment here or by calling (619)400-8251.

The San Diego Blood Bank assured donors and receivers that COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, poses no risk to patients receiving a transfusion. No cases of virus transmission by blood have been reported.

Despite, the blood bank still wanted to ensure the safety of their patients by denying donations from people who have in the past 28 days traveled to areas on the World Health Organization's level three travel warnings, which included China, Italy, Iran and South Korea.

Anyone who has been exposed or treated for COVID-19, or who shows coronavirus symptoms like fever, cough and shortness of breath, would also be deferred from donating blood for 28 days.

The Centers for Disease Control, which manages the United States' blood supply, said donors are asked a set of standard questions before donating to determine if the donor is in good health and free of any diseases that could be transmitted by blood transfusion.

"The U.S. blood supply is "safer than it has ever been," according to the CDC.

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