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Nationwide, more than 6,000 Red Cross blood drives have been canceled recently due to COVID-19 precautions. That equates to more than 200,000 fewer blood donations across the United States, according to Red Cross external communications manager Sue Thesenga.

But Anoka County residents are still giving blood. A blood drive took place outside Forgotten Star Brewing in Fridley Friday, March 20, and future drives are scheduled in Anoka, Blaine, Coon Rapids and more.

In a crisis such as the current coronavirus pandemic, blood donations are more important than ever.

“It’s one of the most important things you can do,” Thesenga said.

However, due to social distancing and fear of catching the virus many are afraid to donate.

Thesenga said it’s safe to donate blood during the pandemic, and the Red Cross is taking more precautionary measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

The organization is checking temperatures of donors and staff and checking for flu-like symptoms to ensure people are safe to give and take blood. Additionally, staff are spreading out beds where possible to abide by social distancing standards and providing hand sanitizer throughout the donation process, Thesenga said.

During national crises the Red Cross does see an uptick in people wanting to donate, but Thesenga said it’s better to schedule an appointment so donation centers can spread out the timing of donations, because blood only has a 42-day shelf life.

“Make an appointment ahead of time, because this isn’t going away tomorrow,” Thesenga said.

Those who donate shouldn’t stop there; donors are eligible to donate once every eight weeks.

Those looking to donate blood must be at least 17 years old and be in good health and feeling well. Certain medications and conditions may prevent someone from donating. To see a complete list of eligibility, visit tinyurl.com/y8gkxqu7.

“We’re doing everything we can to have blood available for people who need it,” Thesenga said. “If you’re feeling healthy and well: Come out and give.”

For up-to-date donation opportunities or to sign up to give, visit redcrossblood.org.

emilee.wentland@ecm-inc.com

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