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Red Cross blood drive will be held Friday

The American Red Cross is urging healthy donors of all blood types to give blood to ensure a strong blood supply for patients as the U.S. braces for flu season while in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. A drive will be held locally from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday at the Hampton Inn, 3291 Market St. Ext., Warren.

Medical experts are urging people to get the flu shot to avoid a flu epidemic on top of the current COVID-19 pandemic. Because blood can only be given by those who are feeling well, a severe flu season could create additional challenges to maintaining a sufficient blood supply for hospital patients in need. There is no waiting period to give blood or platelets after receiving a flu shot as long as the donor is symptom-free and fever-free. There is no risk of transmitting the influenza virus after receiving a flu vaccination.

For those that have the flu, it is important to wait until they no longer exhibit flu symptoms, have recovered completely and feel well before attempting to donate. Donors must feel healthy and well on the day of donation.

In thanks for making time to donate, the Red Cross will send those who give blood through Nov. 11 a $5 Amazon.com gift card via email, courtesy of Suburban Propane. Plus, while entering those who give blood in October a chance to win a $1,000 Amazon.com gift card. Five people will win.

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. To protect the health and safety of Red Cross staff and donors, it is important that individuals who do not feel well or believe they may be ill with COVID-19 postpone donation.

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. Donors are asked to schedule an appointment prior to arriving at the drive and are required to wear a face covering or mask while at the drive, in alignment with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention public guidance.

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