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American Red Cross officials encourage people to consider donating as the country addresses public health emergency

PHOTO COURTESY OF AMERICAN RED CROSS - The American Red Cross is imploring healthy, eligible individuals to continue to give blood during this time of crisis.

Despite the onslaught of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, the American Red Cross is imploring healthy, eligible individuals free of symptoms to continue to give blood and platelets to help maintain a sufficient supply and prevent shortages in the United States.

"We are asking the American people to help keep the blood supply stable during this challenging time," Chris Hrouda, president of Red Cross Blood Services, said in a release last week. "As communities across the country prepare for this public health emergency, it's critical that plans include a readily available blood supply for patients.

"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."

To that end, there are three opportunities to give blood in Newberg over the next two weeks: from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday at the Chehalem Cultural Center, 415 E. Sheridan St.; from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. March 23 at the Newberg Fred Meyer store; from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. March 26 at the Public Safety Building on Third and South Howard streets and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. March 30 at Nap's Thriftway on First Street.

The advent of the coronavirus corresponded this year with cold and flu season and doubly impacted the nation's ability to maintain its blood supply, the release said.

"As the number of coronavirus cases grows in the U.S., the number of people eligible to give blood to patients in need could decrease further," the release continued.

Red Cross officials pointed out that donating blood is a safe process and that there is no evidence that coronavirus can be transmissible by blood transfusion. In fact, there have been no cases worldwide of transmission for any respiratory virus via a transfusion.

According to the release, the Red Cross only collects blood from individuals who are healthy and feeling well at the time of donation, and those who meet other Red Cross eligibility requirements available at www.RedCrossBlood.org. Employees follow strict safety protocols during donations, including wearing gloves, routinely wiping down donor-touched areas, using sterile collections sets and preparing the arm for donation with an aseptic scrub.

"These mitigation measures will help ensure blood recipients' safety, as well as staff and donor safety in reducing contact with those who may potentially have this respiratory infection," the release said.

To sign up in advance to give blood, visit www.RedCrossBlood.org or call 1-800-733-2767. Walk-ins will also accepted. Donors of Type O blood are especially needed right now.

"Keep giving, keep hosting blood drives," Hrouda said. "Patients across the country need our help."


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