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This story was updated at 3:31 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020, with more information.

Blood Assurance is in need of donations from all blood types after seeing a decrease in donation numbers due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a news release. 

The organization is asking anyone in the Chattanooga-area to donate during a time of increased hospital use and several local traumas over the weekend. Blood Assurance is the only supplier in the area which provides all blood products used at our local hospitals.

There are several blood types at critical levels, including O-positive, O-negative, B-negative, and A- negative. Now through Oct. 20, donors with those specific blood types who are 18 and older will receive $10 Amazon gift cards in the mail after their donation. 

"The need for blood never stops and it takes several hundred donors every day to maintain a safe and adequate blood supply for our area hospitals," Blood Assurance Medical Director Dr. Elizabeth Culler said in the release. "Blood donors are essential to our hospital infrastructure just like masks, gloves and medical equipment. Without blood on the shelf, patients cannot be cared for."

Blood banks across the country are experiencing similar shortages due to concerns about the coronavirus, the news release states. The Mayo Clinic cites that long-term blood donors fall under high-risk categories for COVID-19 due to their age and underlying health and are no longer active donors. The gap leaves a need for other groups of community members to step in. The Mayo Clinic encourages healthy adults who are not quarantined to make an appointment to donate blood. 

Donating blood during the pandemic is completely safe, and donors will be tested for COVID-19 antibodies when they donate now through Oct. 5, according to Blood Assurance. The organization is taking extra precautions to ensure the safety of donors, which includes social distancing measures and appointment only sessions. 

To donate blood, donors must be at least 17 years old (or 16 years old with parental consent), weigh 110 pounds or more and be in good health. Donors should drink plenty of fluids, avoid caffeine and eat a meal rich in iron prior to donating.

Those wishing to schedule an appointment or find a donor center or mobile drive can visit www.bloodassurance.org/schedule, call 800-962-0628 or text 'BAGIVE' to 999777. 

Compiled by Kiara Green

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