Blood supply hits emergency level due to coronavirus concerns

Community action needed to prevent blood supply collapse

The Pacific Northwest’s blood supply is at risk of collapse in coming days.

The accelerating number of blood drive cancellations due to the closure of schools, businesses, and events over coronavirus concerns has put nearly 60 percent of the community’s blood supply in jeopardy. With exponentially decreasing opportunities for the public to donate, Bloodworks’ community blood supply is in real danger. For the safety and care of current and future patients, Bloodworks is urging the community to step up to donate and spread word of the current need.

“It is our shared civic responsibility to get the word out that our community is under a grave threat,” said Curt Bailey, CEO and president of Bloodworks Northwest. “The cancellation of blood drives creates a serious public health concern since nearly 60 percent of our blood supply is collected at mobile blood drives. Without access to locations where the public can donate blood, we’re at a tipping point where children and adults experiencing trauma, those going through cancer treatment, and premature babies, among others, will not have blood available. Together, we can rise up to this challenge, but we must act now.”

Compounding the problem is the nationwide blood shortage due to the rapidly evolving COVID-19 situation. Bloodworks confirmed they’re starting to receive assistance from blood centers throughout the U.S.

“Other blood centers are fully aware of the serious position we’re in and are offering help where they can,” Bailey said. “The shipments they’re sending us help, but won’t solve the problem. If the virus spreads, assistance from other parts of the country will be unlikely. We owe it to our community to each do our part locally to ensure a safe and reliable blood supply.”

“Without available blood, doctors will have to make life or death decisions about who receives blood and who doesn’t,” added Vicki Finson, executive vice president of blood services. “We know that fears of coronavirus are threatening our blood supply, but even scarier is the idea that we won’t have enough blood for people who desperately need it. We need donors to keep their appointments and for blood drive sponsors to keep hosting drives.”

Donating blood is a safe activity. Individuals are not at risk of contracting coronavirus through the blood donation process. (Source: AABB) Bloodworks policies comply with FDA, CDC, local health departments and other recommendations related to COVID-19. Bloodworks routinely sanitizes donation areas, chairs, surfaces and common objects like door knobs and light switches, and use hand sanitizer. Staff, donors and volunteers are encouraged to stay home if they feel unwell.

Routine blood donor screening methods that are already in place would be expected to reliably protect the blood supply, and it’s important to note that there have been no reported cases of transfusion-transmitted coronavirus anywhere in the world. (Source: FDA)

It takes 1,000 people showing up to donate at a donor center or blood drive every day to keep our community’s blood supply at stable levels. Bloodworks has posted information addressing questions and concerns for blood donors at Blood donation takes about an hour from registration to post-donation refreshment. Information about who can donate and where, is available at

For the latest information on COVID-19 please visit the CDC website and Washington State Department of Health COVID-19 main page.