Live Mic: Blood donations needed desperately, Red Cross says

Mar 18, 2020, 3:07 PM
sickle cell...
Concern over the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus have seen blood donation and drives fall far below what hospitals need. (Screen grab from American Red Cross video.)
(Screen grab from American Red Cross video.)

SALT LAKE CITY — Self-isolation, social-distancing and self-quarantine are all keeping Americans in their homes. But the downside of that is this: The American Red Cross is facing a severe blood shortage during the coronavirus pandemic.

Donating blood is a safe process and people should not hesitate to give or receive blood, the humanitarian organization says. It urges healthy donors to make an appoint to donate soon. But if you’ve traveled to China, Hong Kong and Macau, as well as Iran, Italy and South Korea, you should postpone your donation for 28 days.

As of Wednesday afternoon, 2,700 blood drives have been cancelled nationwide, leaving 86,000 fewer donations amid closures on college campuses and at places of business across the nation as the coronavirus pandemic spreads.

Blood donations needed in Utah

On Live Mic, Lee Lonsberry spoke with Rich Woodruff, Red Cross director of communication for the Salt Lake region, about the blood shortage.

“Every two seconds somebody needs blood,” Woodruff said. “There’s a bit of fear about donating blood. The Red Cross has always been extremely vigilant about a safe blood supply. We’ve taken even more extraordinary measures with [social] distancing to prescreen [donors]. The numbers are scary. They continue to plummet,” he said.

“Are we in a critical time where lives are being threatened or are we in a situation where we need to maintain the reserves we have now?” Lee asked.

“Blood is a life-saving donation. We like to see a three to five days worth of blood on the shelves in hospitals. Of course, type O negative is always in demand because it’s a universal blood type — that is the go-to in emergencies like auto accidents and that sort of thing,” Woodruff said.

He added that platelets and other blood product donations are needed for cancer patients because it’s a coagulant that aids in clotting.

Woodruff said the Red Cross is aggressively pushing its message to the public because as donations of blood continue to decline, demand begins to outstrip supplies.

Save a life, find a donation site

“How do folks know where to go to donate blood?” Lee asked.

Woodruff advised needed donors to go to and type in your ZIP code. He also said make an appointment because it cuts down on wait times. He urged donors, especially first-timers, to download the blood-donor app as it alleviates a lot of the prescreening.

Woodruff asked that if your blood drive has been cancelled, please reschedule it. The Red Cross will redirect you to another donation site.

Live Mic with Lee Lonsberry can be heard weekdays from 12:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app

How To Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 Coronavirus

COVID-19 coronavirus is transmitted from person to person. It is a virus that is similar to the common cold and the flu. So, to prevent it from spreading:

  • Wash hands frequently and thoroughly, with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds.
  • Don’t touch your face.
  • Keep children and those with compromised immune systems away from someone who is coughing or sneezing (in this instance, at least six feet)
  • If there is an outbreak near you, practice social distancing (stay at home, instead of going to the movies, sports events, or other activities.)
  • Get a flu shot.

Local resources

State of Utah:

Utah State Board of Education

Utah Hospital Association

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Utah Coronavirus Information Line – 1-800-456-7707

National Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Commonly asked questions, World Health Organization

Cases in the United States

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Live Mic: Blood donations needed desperately, Red Cross says