Stay-at-home orders threaten blood shortage nationwide, Red Cross says

More than 6,000 American Red Cross blood drives have been canceled nationwide over the last three weeks resulting in about 200,000 fewer blood donations.

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The American Red Cross is seeing its blood drives shrink as people are ordered to stay home to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

The American Red Cross is seeing its blood drives shrink as people are ordered to stay home to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Sun-Times File Photo

The American Red Cross is warning against another national crisis as the number of blood drives shrink while people stay home to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

The shelter-at-home orders in many states, including Illinois, have forced many businesses and schools to cancel blood drives that the Red Cross relies on to help surgery patients, car accident victims and those suffering from chronic illnesses and other medical conditions.

More than 6,000 Red Cross blood drives were canceled nationwide over the last three weeks resulting in about 200,000 fewer blood donations, Red Cross officials said.

Blood will be needed “for days, weeks and months to come” regardless of the COVID-19 outbreak that is already threatening to overwhelm hospitals, said Joy Squier, a spokeswoman for the Chicago-region Red Cross.

“One of the most important things you can do to ensure we don’t have another health care crisis on top of the coronavirus is to give blood,” Squier said. “The need for blood is constant, and will continue throughout this outbreak.”

Donors will see fewer opportunities to give blood as cancellations continue to rise, but the Chicago chapter of the Red Cross has scheduled daily drives at its offices, 2200 W. Harrison St., and it is working on adding additional locations, Squier said.

“We ask that people please do not feel discouraged if there is not an immediate appointment available — patients still need you,” Squier said.

Squier stresses it is important to have an appointment instead of doing a walk-in because “appointments are scheduled in consideration of timing and social distancing.”

Volunteers are also practicing social distancing by remotely helping residents find food, shelter and medication.

Those who are healthy and feeling well can make an appointment to donate blood or sign up to volunteer by visiting Redcross.org or by calling 1-800-RED CROSS.

Manny Ramos is a corps member inReport for America,a not-for-profit journalism program that aims to bolster Sun-Times coverage of issues affecting Chicago’s South and West sides.

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