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In face of the virus crisis, many Americans are pondering how they can help keep our country strong. One of the most beneficial ways is for healthy men and women to donate blood.

With the cancellation of many blood drives due to the virus situation, the American Association of Blood Banks reports that it has suffered a loss so far this year of 130,000 donations. Blood has a short shelf life, and donation inventories need to be replenished.

Such donations are vital in helping our country’s health care community provide surgeries, help car accident victims and treat patients with a variety of conditions that require blood transfusions.

The American Red Cross, which provides about 40% of the nation’s blood donations, says it currently faces “a severe blood shortage due to an unprecedented number of blood drive cancellations during this coronavirus outbreak.” Healthy individuals, the nonprofit says, “are needed to schedule an appointment to give in the days and weeks ahead to help patients counting on lifesaving blood, platelets or AB Elite plasma throughout this pandemic.”

American Red Cross blood donation centers have implemented new protocols to prevent transmission of the coronavirus. The Red Cross has adopted enhanced disinfecting procedures and uses social distancing. Staff members check the temperature and conditions of donors beforehand to ensure that they are healthy.

Red blood cells are viable for only 52 days, and blood platelets for only five days — underscoring the great need for new blood donations here in the Midlands and nationwide.

Healthy donors can make an appointment at https://www.redcross.org/give-blood.html.

Gov. Pete Ricketts has rightly noted that the American Red Cross “has been there for Nebraskans in our times of greatest need. Now, I urge healthy Nebraskans to help the Red Cross and their neighbors by setting an appointment to donate blood as soon as possible.”

COVID-19 is not spread through blood transfusions. It “is not a blood-borne disease, that is clear,” explains Dr. Claudia Cohn, chief medical officer for the American Association of Blood Banks.

Healthy young people in particular are urged to donate, given the need to reduce older Americans’ possible exposure in public.

For Americans wanting to contribute to society’s needs in this emergency, one of the best options is clear: Give blood.

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