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‘National crisis’: Red Cross seeks blood donors during coronavirus outbreak

Ron Musselman
York Dispatch

Fewer people are donating blood during the coronavirus crisis, and it has led to a severe shortage both locally and nationally.

As of Thursday morning, 257 blood drives had been canceled in Pennsylvania, leading to a loss of 7,506 donations, according to Lisa Landis, a spokeswoman for the Greater Pennsylvania Region chapter of the American Red Cross.

She said more than 4,500 blood drives have been canceled nationally.

“When you consider that every donation of blood can save up to three lives, it is substantial,” Landis said. “This is a national crisis. We’re encouraging everyone who is available and healthy and well to get out and donate.”

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A blood drive was held Thursday at the Wyndham Garden York on Loucks Road in West Manchester Township.

Landis said the Red Cross is attempting to reschedule some of the canceled blood drives.  

Baltimore Red Cross phlebotomist Kyemah Clark, left, works with donor Ted Shull, of Paradise Township, during a blood drive at Wyndham Garden York in West Manchester Township, Thursday, March 19, 2020. Dawn J. Sagert photo

“If you have the space and can host an event, feel free to reach out to us,” she said.

Even during the coronavirus crisis, Landis said, cancer patients need blood, as well as trauma victims and others.

People are asked to postpone their donations for 28 days if they have traveled to China, Hong Kong, Macau, Iran, Italy or South Korea, have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or have come into contact with a person suspected of having the virus. 

Landis said the Red Cross has implemented new rules for would-be blood donors.

“We will be taking everyone’s temperature at the door, and if anything has increased with it, they will be turned away,” she said. “And if you have a cough or cold, don’t come out.”

— Ron Musselman can be reached at rmusselman@yorkdispatch.com or via Twitter at @ronmusselman8.