Red Cross faces severe blood shortage, urges donations amid coronavirus pandemic

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- The American Red Cross is facing a severe blood shortage as blood drives across the country are canceled due to concerns over the novel coronavirus crisis. Even though California's stay-at-home order may be in effect, that doesn't mean giving blood is off-limits.

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"We want to make sure we have enough in our pipeline moving forward into May, into June, because blood donations don't stop," said Ken Toren, Red Cross Northern California Coastal Region executive director.

"People always need blood year-round," Toren said.

Since the start of the novel coronavirus crisis, nearly 150 blood drives have been canceled in Northern California, resulting in more than 4,600 fewer donations.

RELATED: Surgeon General urges US citizens to donate blood to help during coronavirus crisis

ABC7 News spoke to Stanford resident Eva Fourakis, who spent Thursday afternoon at the San Jose Blood Center, fully aware of the growing need.

"Donating blood only takes like 10 minutes," said Fourakis. "Donating platelets takes two hours, but I get to sit here and watch a movie, which I could be doing at home, or I could be doing it here knowing that I'm helping someone."

The Red Cross has implemented new measures to reassure the public that blood donation is a safe process. This includes social distancing and enhanced cleaning of surfaces and equipment. To help maintain the safety of donors, volunteers, and staff, every person who enters the facility is having their temperature checked before they walk into the center.

"We're still going to have traumatic injuries. We still have cancer victims, cancer treatments underway that critically need support with donations of blood," said San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, who stopped by the center to donate blood and encourage others to do the same.

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