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Healthy people: The nation needs your blood.

As coronavirus sweeps the country, roughly 4,000 blood drives had been canceled nationwide, which means a loss of more than 100,000 donations — and that number is likely “just the tip of the iceberg,” said Jonathan McNamara, American Red Cross Regional Communications Director.

“This puts a significant strain on the nation’s blood supply,” he said.

He said the organization is urging healthy people to donate by making an appointment online to visit one of the area’s donation sites.

Appointments can be made at redcrossblood.org. With the current pandemic unlikely to stop in the near future, McNamara said blood donors shouldn’t be discouraged if they can’t get an appointment the same day or even the next day.

“This is not going to be a short-term challenge — that need is going to be there,” even weeks from now, he said.

Youth donations from high school and college students are one of the largest segments of the population that have fallen sharply as schools and colleges around the country are closed.

He said the donation sites are following health and government guidelines, which include a screening process for donors.

“You know your body — we don’t want anyone … who does not feel well,” McNamara said. On the other hand, if you’re healthy, ”share your health with those who aren’t feeling well.”

McNamara said as the situation evolves and blood drives are canceled, donors should keep checking the website for other sites where they can give.

The ripple effect from low blood levels can be devastating, he said, adding: “There is no substitute for human blood.”

Holly Prestidge writes for the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

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