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Blood centers expand hours, seek donors

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Most local blood drives have been canceled as people are urged to stay home to prevent the spread of COVID-19. But health officials say the need for blood is still great, and donation centers around the area remain open with expanded hours — and increased safety precautions.

 

Inova Blood Donor Services said it is seeking blood donors to sign up now for appointments six weeks or more in the future at locations in Sterling, Annandale and Centreville. The Red Cross also lists donation sites by location on its website.

 

“Due to COVID-19, cancellations of blood drives from high schools to community to business partners have caused a critical shortage in the blood supply in our area and throughout the United States,” Inova said in a March news release. As of March 26, all of its blood drives are canceled, Inova said, adding that more than 250 donors are needed each day to ensure adequate blood supplies.

 

The American Red Cross notes on its website that blood donations are “essential for surgeries, cancer treatment, chronic illnesses and traumatic injuries,” which haven’t stopped during the current pandemic. “Donating blood products is essential to community health and eligible donors are strongly urged to donate during the COVID-19 outbreak. As part of our nation’s critical infrastructure, healthy individuals can still donate in areas that have issued shelter-in-place declarations.”

 

Inova said that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration both “have stated that blood donor centers are safe and have universal precautions at all times.”

 

Inova has added additional hand sanitizing stations in donor centers, and said beds, chairs and other surfaces are wiped down between donors. Chairs in waiting areas have been spaced apart to allow for social distancing.

 

As of March 26, Inova added that all staff in clinical areas are wearing masks, staff members’ temperatures are taken twice a day, at the beginning and middle of their shifts, and donor center schedules have been adjusted to facilitate social distancing.

 

The Red Cross takes similar precautions and said there is no evidence the coronavirus can be transmitted by blood transfusion.

 

Staff writer Leslie Miller contributed to this story.

 

 

Donate blood

 

To find a donation site near you, go to inovablood.org, redcrossblood.org or call the American Red Cross, 1-800-733-2767.

 

 

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2020