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Blood donations urged amid COVID-19 pandemic

The American Red Cross is urging healthy donors of all blood types to band together to give blood and help ensure a stable blood supply for patients this holiday season, according to a press release.

The traditional slump in blood donations between Thanksgiving and New Year’s comes as the blood supply already faces challenges created by the coronavirus pandemic. Required medical treatments and emergencies don’t pause for the holidays or a widespread coronavirus outbreak.

Make an appointment to give blood, platelets or plasma with the Red Cross by downloading the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or enabling the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device.

The Red Cross is testing blood, platelet and plasma donations for COVID-19 antibodies. The test may indicate if the donor’s immune system has produced antibodies to this coronavirus, regardless of whether an individual developed COVID-19 symptoms. Red Cross antibody tests will be helpful to identify individuals who have COVID-19 antibodies and may now help current coronavirus patients in need of convalescent plasma transfusions. Convalescent plasma is a type of blood donation collected from COVID-19 survivors that have antibodies that may help patients who are actively fighting the virus.

COVID-19 antibody test results will be available within one to two weeks in the Red Cross Blood Donor App or donor portal at RedCrossBlood.org. A positive antibody test result does not confirm infection or immunity. The Red Cross is not testing donors to diagnose illness, referred to as a diagnostic test.

Each Red Cross blood drive and donation center follows the highest standards of safety and infection control, and additional precautions — including temperature checks, social distancing and face coverings for donors and staff — have been implemented to help protect the health of all those in attendance. Donors are required to wear a face covering or mask, in alignment with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention public guidance.

Upcoming blood donation opportunities in the Tribune’s coverage area include:

• Noon to 6 p.m. Nov. 16 at Hollandale Christian Reformed Church, 102 Amsterdam Ave. E. in Hollandale

• 1 to 7 p.m. Nov. 20 at United Methodist Church, 702 Highway 69 S. in Albert Lea

• Noon to 6 p.m. Nov. 25 at Northbridge Mall, 2510 Bridge Ave. in Albert Lea

• 1 to 6 p.m. Nov. 30 at Geneva Community Center, 314 First Ave. SE in Geneva.