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PANAMA CITY — As the threat of the spread of coronavirus grows, OneBlood officials say it’s critical for people to continue making blood donations.
The organization reported a growing shortage in blood donations last week.
"In just over a week, OneBlood has had more than 700 blood drives canceled," Senior Vice President, Corporate Communications and Public Relations Officer said in a Monday Facebook live out of Orlando, in which she answered questions regarding the shortage. "That is significant, that is unprecedented. That equals over 12,000 blood donations that will go uncollected."
According to a statement from Peter Marks, M.D., Ph.D., director of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, the FDA has concerns the blood supply will continue to drop amid fears over coronavirus.
"We need people to prevent the blood supply from getting depleted. We need it not to get to the point that surgeries are having to get canceled," Marks said. "That’s something we absolutely do not want to have happen. To ensure an adequate blood supply we need people to come out and donate blood."
Worries over shortage also comes as American Red Cross reported blood drive cancellations country-wide. According to an ABCNews story last week, 600 drives have been canceled, which equals to about 18,000 fewer donations the blood bank.
"As businesses and schools cancel their events and places are starting to close, that is drastically impacting the nation’s blood supply ... because it is limiting the places we can go to have blood drives," Forbes said in the streamed event.
"For every blood drive that doesn’t happen, for every donor that doesn’t come in, it furthers put the blood supply at risk," she added.
The OneBlood Big Red Bus was scheduled to be in different cities across Northwest Florida Panhandle throughout the week, however, those drives were canceled due to coronavirus, a local OneBlood representative said.
The Big Red Bus schedule will be updated online by Tuesday.
Forbes said the organization is taking extra precautions to make sure the donation process is safe for staff and donors. Donations are accepted from healthy donors only. Donors are checked for fevers; also, donors are called in for the donation by registering with their cell phone numbers — a means to avoid gathering in lines.
"The need is real. The need is now. And we are encouraging you to donate," Forbes said. "You will make a tremendous impact on your community by being a blood donor."
To donate in your area visit OneBlood.org.