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American Red Cross faces severe blood shortage as coronavirus outbreak cancels thousands of blood drives

Nearly 2,700 Red Cross blood drives have been canceled across the country due to concerns about congregating amidst the coronavirus outbreak.

SAN DIEGO — As workplaces, college campuses, and schools temporarily close or urge remote work in response to the coronavirus pandemic, the impacts are being felt throughout the community and even the blood supply. Right now, the American Red Cross has a severe blood shortage due to an unprecedented number of blood drive cancellations during the coronavirus outbreak.

As the coronavirus pandemic has grown here in the U.S., blood drive cancellations have grown at an alarming rate. To date, nearly 2,700 Red Cross blood drives have been canceled across the country due to concerns about congregating at workplaces, college campuses, and schools amidst the coronavirus outbreak. These cancellations have resulted in some 86,000 fewer blood donations. More than 80% of the blood the Red Cross collects comes from drives held at locations of this type.

The Red Cross also urges organizations to maintain scheduled blood drives. Donating is a safe process and people should not hesitate to give or receive blood or platelets. Additionally, the Red Cross has implemented additional precautions to ensure the safety of our donors and staff.

Schedule an appointment to give blood or find a blood drive here

At each blood drive or donation center, Red Cross employees follow thorough safety protocols, including:

  • Wearing gloves and changing them often
  • Wiping down donor-touched areas after every collection
  • Using sterile collection sets for every donation
  • Preparing the arm for donation with aseptic scrub
  • Conducting donor mini-physicals to ensure donors are healthy and well on day of donation


We have also increased our vigilance concerning some of these safety protocols including:

  • Enhanced disinfecting of equipment
  • Providing hand sanitizer for use before entering and throughout the donation appointment
  • Temperature checks before presenting donors enter the blood drive or donation center
  • Spacing beds, where possible, to follow social distancing practices between donors
  • During this time, blankets typically used by platelet, Power Red and AB Elite donors at Red Cross blood donation centers will be laundered after each use, which may limit the availability. Donors are encouraged to bring their own blankets, but electric blankets and heating pads are not permitted.

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