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365体育投注Vitalant, the United States' second largest blood supply organization, issued a Level 2 alert for low blood supplies this week. Caleb Hampton/Enterprise photo

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Local blood banks report urgent shortage

Local officials from medical groups and blood banks have warned that the greater Sacramento region is on the cusp of a major blood shortage.

365体育投注Vitalant, the United States’ second largest blood supply organization, issued a Level 2 alert this week. “At Level 3, we’re telling hospitals they need to cancel or postpone certain procedures or stop using blood for them,” Vitalant senior chief medical officer for the greater Sacramento region Chris Gresens said Saturday.

The shortage could reach that level at any moment. “So far, we can meet specific needs but that could change on a dime,” Gresens said, adding that a critical shortage could happen within the next 12 to 48 hours. “We’re telling hospitals to be ready,” he said.

Medical groups have also issued warnings. “We are rapidly moving toward a severe blood shortage,” a Dignity Health representative at the Mercy Medical Center in Redding said Friday in an email to regional medical staff. “Due to the current restrictions and the up-coming crisis, we need to strongly consider conservative use of our blood supply.”

Blood donations are used for everything from elective surgeries to traumatic events like shootings and car accidents. “We can’t wait for the tragedies to happen before we donate blood,” Vitalant marketing and communications manager Drew Fowler said. “The blood has to be there and ready to go when patients need it.”

365体育投注The blood shortage comes as schools, churches and other community groups have canceled blood drives, among other events, because of statewide “shelter-in-place” directives issued to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). According to Vitalant, these drives typically generate more than 60 percent of the country’s blood supply.

“Hundreds of our blood drives have been canceled, leading to thousands of lost donations,” Gresens said. “We have to make up for those somehow.”

365体育投注Blood banks across the U.S. and beyond also face urgent shortages due to canceled blood drives. “In parts of China and here at home in Seattle, the blood supply is at the ‘lowest levels’ and is in ‘danger of collapse’ as groups have canceled blood drives and individuals have stopped donating blood,” a on Vitalant’s website says.

To compensate for lost blood drives, Vitalant is encouraging individuals to donate. Extra precautions have been implemented at donation centers to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including checking temperatures and maintaining social distancing. Anyone who feels sick should stay home, as should people who traveled to countries with widespread COVID-19 outbreaks within the last four weeks.

“Donated blood is a lifesaving, essential part of caring for patients,” the Centers for Disease Control and Protection says on its . “CDC encourages people who are well to continue to donate blood if they are able, even if they are practicing social distancing because of COVID-19.”

There is that COVID-19, which is a respiratory infection, can be transmitted through blood, and Vitalant does not test donors for the virus. “This is not a backdoor way to get tested,” Fowler said.

365体育投注Healthy individuals are encouraged to make an appointment ahead of time so that Vitalant can space out the flow of donors and avoid crowding.

“We have seen an outpouring of support from the community to come and donate blood, but we need it to be sustained,” Fowler said. “Blood doesn’t last forever on the shelf and there is no substitute.” If individual donations were to drop off over the next several weeks, local healthcare facilities could run out of blood for patients who need it.

365体育投注“A lot of people are looking for ways to help right now. This is safe and it’s a great way to help,” Fowler said.

365体育投注*To in Davis, call Vitalant at 866-822-5663 or visit www.vitalant.org. Vitalant’s Davis site is located at 1801 Hanover Drive, Suite A, Davis, CA 95616.

— Reach Caleb Hampton at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @calebmhampton. We’ve put all COVID-19 news stories and local columns outside our paywall, to make sure all the information on local coronavirus response gets disseminated as widely as possible. To subscribe to The Enterprise and support local journalism, click here.

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