Gov. Northam urges Virginians to donate blood amid shortage: ‘It's a critical need’

Posted at 3:14 PM, Mar 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-18 18:39:47-04

RICHMOND, Va. – Gov. Ralph Northam urged Virginians to donate blood Wednesday in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Northam said during a news briefing that the American Red Cross is experience a shortage because of the cancellation of blood drives.

“We are all focused on the coronavirus epidemic, but car accidents or childbirth or emergency surgeries don't stop. Our need for blood does not stop,” Northam said.

Virginia Region of the American Red Cross CEO James Hatcher III said thousands of blood drives have been nixed over the past two weeks which equates to a loss of likely 100,000 units of blood.

"We project that trend to continue. There are some things [elective surgeries] that you can reschedule, when it comes to the need for blood, but there are many that you cannot," Hatcher said. "In this time of uncertainty and people wondering what can I do to help... [One] thing you can do to help if you are healthy, feeling well, is to roll up your sleeves and give blood."

Hatcher said donating blood was a relatively simple way to give back.

"It is something that each of us can consider doing that has a dramatic impact, dramatic positive impact during this time," he said. "It is a critical need in our in our communities, both locally within the state and across the nation."

Northam noted that there is no evidence COVID-19 can be transmitted through blood.

Additionally, the governor said the Red Cross has implemented extra screening procedures like testing donors' temperatures.

"I'm going to donate blood this afternoon and I urge all healthy Virginians to do the same," Northam said.

Click here to make an appointment to donate blood at a Red Cross location in Central Virginia.

COVID-19 in Virginia

Virginia Health Commissioner Dr. Norman Oliver said there are 77 cases COVID-19 cases as of 11 a.m., up from 67 cases on the day before. The state is also investigating three outbreaks, which is defined as two or more cases that can be traced to a common exposure.

"I should also report that we have currently 65 tests. They're in the process of being run at the state lab," Oliver said. "There are probably tests as well being run by [private labs], so there will be other cases that will develop or be confirmed during the day."

Most patients with COVID-19 have mild to moderate symptoms. However, in a small proportion of patients, COVID-19 can lead to more severe illness, including death, particularly among those who are older or those who have chronic medical conditions.

COVID-19 spreads primarily through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

Symptoms include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. Symptoms appear within 14 days of being exposed to an infectious person.

Virginia health officials offered the following precautions:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand s
  • anitizer only if soap and water are not available.
  • anitizer only if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Avoid contact with sick people.
  • Avoid non-essential travel.