Cold and flu season has already impacted the number of donors who regularly give blood in New Jersey. But as the number of novel coronavirus victims continue to increase, the less people will be eligible. So the American Red Cross of New Jersey is urging healthy residents to give blood and platelets.

Alana Mauger, a spokeswoman for the American Red Cross Blood Services said in New Jersey, 600 pints of blood need to be collected every single day so they can supply local hospitals and patients despite illnesses such as the flu and coronavirus.

She said there is an urgent need in New Jersey for all blood types especially O-positive and O-negative. O-negative is the universal blood type and can be transfused to anyone. It's what doctors and nurses reach for in the emergency room when there is no time to type a person's blood. O-positive blood is important because it's the most common blood type and can be transfused to any RH-positive patient.

While things are not at the super critical stage, it's on the way. Mauger said any additional decline in the number of blood donations will severely impact the blood supplies that are currently on hand.

If a person has a fever, he or she cannot donate blood. If someone is not feeling well, he or she should not donate. Mauger said they want donors to be symptom free and advise against donating until they're feeling 100%.

She also said the American Red Cross Blood Services is expanding the donation deferral out of an abundance of caution to 28 days for people who have traveled to China, Iran, Italy and South Korea. So if anyone has traveled to these countries recently, she said defer for 28 days before giving blood.

Mauger also stressed the importance of community-based blood drives. She urged communities to keep their blood drives as scheduled and not to cancel. The blood services said 80% of their blood donations come from community-based blood drives at local churches, schools, workplaces, colleges and other organizations.

To find places in New Jersey to donate blood, go to www.redcrossblood.org. Call 1-800-REDCROSS or schedule a donation with the blood donor app.

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