SONOMA COUNTY (CBS SF) — Hundreds of blood drives in the state have been canceled because of the COVID-19 coronavirus, but two North Bay elected officials have joined with the blood bank Vitalant to hold two drives at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds this Friday and Tuesday.

“There’s an urgent need to replenish blood supplies during the coronavirus and Sonoma County has stepped up big time to meet the demand,” state Sen. Mike McGuire, D-Healdsburg, said. 

COMPLETE COVERAGE: CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

“Both blood drives completely booked up within minutes, and we couldn’t be more grateful,” McGuire said.

State Assemblyman Jim Wood, D-Santa Rosa, has joined the blood drive effort with McGuire.

“I know how much people want to help, and they just may not know what to do,” Wood said. “Donating blood is a truly meaningful way to make a difference.”

Officials with Bay Area blood banks and donation centers have been warning of the possibility of a critical blood shortage as a result of precautions taken to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus.

According to Vitalant, blood donation centers in the Bay Area and across the country are staring down a critical supply shortage after closures of schools and local businesses have wiped out blood drive locations.

More than a quarter of Vitalant’s planned blood donation events in March have been canceled as a result of local closures.

All blood types and components are needed, especially type O blood donations. Type O-negative is the universal blood type and emergency room doctors rely on it first to stabilize patients before their blood type is known.

Andrea Casson, manager of Vitalant Donor recruitment, said it is blood on the shelf that saves lives, and it is important that donations are given on an ongoing basis.

“If you cannot give now, we will need you in the weeks and months to come,” Casson said.

The blood donations at the Grace Pavilion at the Fairgrounds, 1350 Bennett Valley Road in Santa Rosa, are by appointment, not walk-up. Social distancing will be observed at both blood drives.

People can call (707) 258-4825 or visit vitalant.org to make an appointment to give blood after the sold-out blood drives Friday and Tuesday.

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