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Red Cross urges the healthy to donate blood amid coronavirus concerns

Red Cross said flu season impacted the nation's blood supply and as COVID-19 cases grow in the U.S., the number of people eligible to give blood could decrease.

The American Cross is urging healthy, eligible people to donate blood. The organization said it wanted to prevent blood supply shortages as COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, continues to spread in the U.S. 

Cold and flu season affects the nation's blood supply maintenance every year, according to the Red Cross. The number of people eligible to give blood may continue to dwindle as more test positive for the coronavirus. 

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"As communities across the country prepare for this public health emergency, it's critical that plans include a readily available blood supply for hospital patients," Chris Hrouda, president of Red Cross Blood Services said in a statement."  "As fears of the 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." 

The organization also urged blood drive hosts to keep hosting blood drives.

Despite the fact that there is no evidence suggesting the virus can be transmitted by blood, new blood donation deferrals were made recently due to "an abundance of caution," according to the Red Cross. Individuals have been asked to postpone their donations for 28 days if they have traveled to China, Hong Kong, Macau, Iran, Italy or South Korea. Individuals should also postpone their donations if they have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or were in contact with a person who is known to or is suspected of having the coronavirus. 

People interested in donating blood can make appointments by using the Red Cross Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org or calling 1-800-733-2767.