Coronavirus pandemic fears could lead to blood shortages across U.S., Red Cross warns

Coronavirus poses threat to blood drives

The coronavirus pandemic could pose a threat to the nation's blood supply as blood drives around the U.S. are being canceled along with other large gatherings. The Red Cross has asked healthy, eligible people to step up and donate to avoid shortages.

Areas of particular concern are states with large outbreaks, where blood drives are being called off due to people generally choosing to avoid congregating. In response to public fear, the Red Cross has made sure it has adequate health and safety measures in place.

In addition to taking the temperature of every donor when they walk in the door and again during a private health screening, the Red Cross is screening employees' temperatures when they arrive for work. The centers and their equipment are also regularly disinfected from top to bottom.

American Red Cross Vice President Paul Sullivan said blood banks are calling on those who are able to help maintain the blood supply.

"Whether it's people in emergency situations, whether it's car accidents, people giving birth, blood is a vital part of our health care system and we need to make sure we have it available for patients," he told CBS News' Chris Martinez.

Blood donor Carlton Schroeder said he continues to go because "blood is needed and blood is wanted," and he hopes more people will come forward to help.

As far as contagion fears, the Red Cross has stated that at this point, there is no evidence coronavirus can be spread through blood.