By Ryan Hill

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – A familiar sound of a scanner at a grocery store is one hospitals and blood banks in the Sacramento area are glad to hear. It’s the sound of blood donations coming into their facilities.

“Thousands and thousands of blood drives across the United States have been canceled because of the Coronavirus outbreak,” Doctor Sarah Barnhand, Medical Director of Transfusions at UC Davis Medical Center, said. “Because of that, there’s a critical national blood supply shortage”

The American Red Cross told CBS13 that in California alone, there have been more than 500 canceled blood drives resulting in more than 17,000 uncollected donations.

“Through the public health department, government, they’ve assured us that blood donation is considered an essential activity,” Doctor Jonathan Hughes, medical director of Vitalant Northern California said.

READ: Hospital Taking Donations Amid Nationwide Supply Shortage

These new recent donations wouldn’t be going to coronavirus patients but for various surgeries or other medical procedures.

UC Davis held an emergency two-day blood drive on Wednesday that will go into Thursday. The hospital said that they completely filled their donor slots.

“In this COVID craze, people need to remember that there are still also traumas. People are having babies. People have cancer,” Elise Bryant, a blood donor at UC Davis said. “There are still ongoing needs for blood. If I can make the slightest bit of difference helping, I’m thrilled to be here.”

Bryant said she was eager to help end the national shortage.

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“I’ve been quarantined at home, social distancing, for the last 13 days,” Bryant, who is dealing with a chronic medical condition, said. “But it was important to me to be here today so that I can contribute. Hopefully, the community can use my blood.”

Vitalant, UC Davis, and the Red Cross say they are using specific practices to ensure the virus doesn’t spread.

“We additionally do temperature checks when we come into our donor visits,” Hughes said. “We have social distancing so that the beds are separated from each other. We disinfect in between donations.”

If someone shows symptoms, they’re asked to leave.

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The Red Cross told CBS13 that the pre-blood donation questionnaires are also meant to trigger potential donors to question if they’re truly healthy and aren’t asymptomatic. The hope now is that people will donate in the coming days and weeks to prioritize and stabilize our local blood supplies.

“We understand that this COVID issue is going to be a long-lasting issue. And we’ll continue to need donors to help those patients,” Hughes said.

“Anything we can do to help. The more of us the better,” David Arriaga said.

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