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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Blood donors are needed urgently in Inland Northwest

Because of the coronavirus, blood donations have dropped throughout the world, including in the Inland Northwest. Vitalant is asking healthy adults to consider donating. (Jens Meyer / Associated Press)

The need for blood donations is at a critical level, with some blood types down to less than a two-day supply regionally, said Tesia Hummer, spokeswoman for Vitalant, formerly Inland Northwest Blood Center.

Multiple mobile blood drives were canceled this week as more people stay home to prevent a possible surge in COVID-19 cases.

“More than 50% of the blood we need to collect comes from our mobile drives,” Hummer said. “We’ve lost more than 25% of what we anticipanted to collect as of this point in March.”

“Right now, we are facing a critical need for healthy donors to come forward. Typically, we need at least a five-day supply of all blood types on hand. Right now, some of our most important blood types are at less than a two days’ supply on hand.

“We have an urgent need for those with type O blood, but all blood types are currently and urgently needed.”

Type O-negative blood is the universal blood type frequently used in trauma care. Vitalant is the sole blood provider to more than 35 hospitals across the Inland Northwest. The agency says it requires at least 200 donors each day to meet the needs regionally.

Washington’s Department of Health also is calling for blood donations, citing a public health risk that could put a local blood supply in danger of collapse. And in Idaho, Gov. Brad Little is encouraging healthy individuals to donate.

“As a longtime blood donor and supporter of the American Red Cross, I urge healthy citizens of Idaho to step up and help their neighbors by making an appointment to donate blood as soon as possible,” Little said in a news release.

Hummer said federal and state officials are emphasizing that blood donations are safe as long as a person has had no COVID-19 symptoms or contact with a person who may have it.

“We do have mobile blood drives going on, but we’ve had numerous cancellations in the past week, so we are encouraging people that if there is a mobile drive to go or to come into one of our donations centers. We have six centers in the Inland Northwest, three of which are in Spokane and Spokane Valley and one in Coeur d’Alene.

“We are sanitizing spaces between each donor just out of an abundance of caution. It’s considered a critical care activity. There is no risk of being in the presence of a group of people. Our chairs in our centers are already set up 6 feet apart.”