'Verge of serious shortage': Bay Area blood centers feeling impact of coronavirus outbreak

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Blood donations in the Bay Area are down significantly as the region reacts to the spread of the coronavirus.

"We are on the verge of a serious shortage of the region's blood supply, I am not going to sugar coat it at all. We like to have about a four day supply of every blood type on the shelf. We are below a two day supply right now," said Kevin Adler, spokesperson for the Vitalant blood center in San Francisco.

He says they have noticed a drop in people coming in to the center's this week.

But he says it is the lack of blood drives out in the community that is concerning.

Almost 20 blood drives in the Bay Area have cancelled this week.

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"They're being cancelled because employees are working from home," he said. "Schools are closed. We have a lot of blood drives on campus. If schools close and there are no students on campus we can't hold a blood drive. High Schools and colleges bring in a large amount of blood when they are in session."

Joan Levison donated blood Thursday morning at the center, located at Masonic and Turk.

She couldn't believe it when ABC7 told her about the drop in donations.

"It's just heartbreaking because it is so easy to give blood. It's as close to painless as you can be and it helps people," Levison said.

She says she's not worried about her safety at the center as the coronavirus continues to spread.

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"I have been doing it so long and they are so careful and particular here," Levison said. "This is probably the safest place to be."
Adler echoed that thought.

"Donating blood is safe," Adler said. "We take every precaution here at the donation center to make sure everyone is safe. You have to be healthy to donate so everyone around here is healthy."

Anthony Parber is also a regular donor. He donated Thursday morning and was disappointed to hear others are staying away.

"I am glad I made the appointment. It is a ridiculous reason for people to die- to not have enough blood around. We all got it," he said.

Both Parber and Levison pointed out how relaxing it is to donate and what good snacks they offer after the donation.
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