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Arizona Desperately Short On Blood For Transfusions

As more Arizonans practice social distancing and coronavirus fears drive people indoors, Arizona’s main supplier of blood for transfusions is seeing a critical shortage of donors. 

Sue Thew is a spokeswoman for Vitalant Blood Services. She says the demand for blood isn’t decreasing because of the pandemic but supply is, as people fear going out in public and spreading or contracting the virus. Blood donation centers are taking extra steps to ensure safety and sanitation, she says.

"Everything that the donor comes in contact with is sanitized between donations," she said. "We’re practicing social distancing at every location so that there’s at least six feet between donors, and we also thoroughly interview the people to make sure they’re not any of the higher risk groups, because of travel and other factors that may affect their blood donation.”

People with chronic conditions or who suffer accidents still need transfusions, Thew says. 

“There are hundreds of blood transfusions that are needed every single day right here in Arizona, and it’s very important that we keep that blood supply very, very flush," she said.

Although coronavirus cannot be passed through blood transfusions, Vitalant screens everyone entering its facilities for symptoms. Those interested in donating can schedule an online appointment to avoid large crowds.

→  Read The Latest News On The Coronavirus Disease 

Scott Bourque was a reporter and podcast producer at KJZZ from 2019 to 2022.