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San Diego Blood Bank asks for donations as region prepares for travel bans

Individuals are not at risk of contracting the coronavirus -- officially known as "COVID-19 "-- from donating blood.
Credit: KFMB

SAN DIEGO — As the region prepares for the impact of a growing coronavirus outbreak, the San Diego Blood Bank is asking for blood donations to shore up its supply.

While there is no known risk to the nation or to Southern California's blood bank supply, the bank said on Wednesday that it is preparing for possible decreased donations as a result of possible travel restrictions.

"We are working with local hospitals to fill hospital inventory in anticipation of a potential drop in supply due to travel restrictions or other potential impact of the coronavirus," said David Wellis, CEO of San Diego Blood Bank. "We are encouraging people to come donate blood to ensure a safe supply is available."

Individuals are not at risk of contracting the coronavirus -- officially known as COVID-19 -- from donating blood, and the virus poses no known risk to patients receiving blood transfusions, officials said.

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As a safety precaution, San Diego Blood Bank is currently deferring people who have traveled to areas with World Health Organization level 3 travel notices (currently China, Italy, Iran and South Korea) for 28 days from their date of departure from the outbreak area. If donors have been exposed to or treated for coronavirus, they are also deferred for 28 days. People experiencing coronavirus symptoms, including fever, cough and shortness of breath, should not attempt to donate.

The blood bank encourages all healthy individuals to donate blood. To be eligible to donate blood, you must be at least 17 years old, weigh at least 114 pounds, and be in general good health. To make an appointment,  call 619-400-8251.

California declared a state of emergency Wednesday, hours after officials in Placer County announced the state's first death from COVID-19.

The illness has killed more than 3,100 people worldwide, mostly in China. Eleven deaths have been reported in the United States, 10 in Washington state and the one in Placer County. More than 93,000 cases of the illness have been confirmed around the globe.

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