Coronavirus Causing Looming Blood Shortages

People staying home and an onslaught of canceled blood drives are leading to low blood supplies nationwide.
Posted at 2:27 PM, Mar 16, 2020

"It's already hard to make sure that hospitals are well stocked in terms of blood. And and the challenges presented by this epidemic are just a whole new. It's just a whole new game," Eduardo Nunes, Vice President of Quality, Standards and Accreditation for AABB told Newsy.

Coronavirus concerns are keeping people from donating blood. Between people staying home and an onslaught of canceled blood drives, experts in the blood bank industry say right now, the nation’s hospitals are running on just a two or three day supply.

"We have plenty of experience with a tight supply. We have experience with regional challenges that the rest of the country can can pitch in to help with. We've never really experienced kind of prolonged national shortages in the US," Nunes said.

Some hospitalshave already begun postponing elective surgeries. But people like trauma, cancer, and sickle cell patients who rely on blood or platelet transfusions aren’t able to do that.

"Every two seconds, someone in the US needs a blood transfusion and that need is not going to change as this coronavirus outbreak continues to grow," said Jodi Sheedy, Senior Director of Integrated Communications for the American Red Cross National Headquarters.

Eduardo Nunes with AABB, the association that accredits most of the blood banks in the U.S., told Newsy blood banks have started temperature pre-screening everyone who comes in to donate. They also have implemented extra cleaning and sanitizing stations at donation sites, hoping that will ease fears.

The FDA and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services have joined the call for donations too. In a statementDr. Admiral Brett P. Giroir, Assistant Secretary for Health at DHHS said: “It is safe to donate blood. Part of preparedness includes a robust blood supply. Healthy individuals should schedule an appointment to donate today to ensure that blood is available for those patients who need it.”