Red Cross fears COVID-19 concerns could impact blood donation supply

The dramatic rise over the weekend in presumptive COVID-19 cases got the attention of the American Red Cross. They’re already experiencing normal winter shortfalls of donated blood. And now the organization now fears coronavirus could impact spring.

“So we're already seeing an impact on the blood supply from cold and flu season,” said Kelly Isenor of the American Red Cross.

While the number of COVID-19 cases in Massachusetts is still low, the latest numbers leave the impression of a rapidly spreading problem, one that could leave blood banks badly depleted.

Related: Live updates: 13 new presumptive positive COVID-19 cases reported by Mass. DPH; state total at 41

“What we expect to see is more people are going to say, ‘you know what, it's not worth it, I'm going to stay home,’” Isenor said.

The Red Cross is hoping to boost blood donations in the short term from donors who have not been exposed to coronavirus. But they're also offering reassurance that even those diagnosed with COVID-19 can donate blood, eventually.

“So we're asking donors who have received a COVID 19 diagnosis to wait 28 days before donating,” Isenor said. “Again that's out of an abundance of caution.”

The Red Cross also wants potential donors who've traveled to high-risk countries to wait 28 days.

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And for those concerned about getting coronavirus through donated blood, you can relax. There’s no evidence the disease can be transmitted that way. Still the disease can be transmitted when groups of people are together.

“I know in Connecticut the sponsor decided to cancel the blood drive, again, in an abundance of caution,” Isenor said.