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The spate of shutdowns around the new coronavirus have temporarily halted much economic activity. That we know. But we’ve seen a cascade of other effects in our daily lives, ranging from the the everyday (spending much more time with our spouses and children in lockdown) to the profound .


One of the profound effects has been an unprecedented shortage of donated blood. Drives across the nation have been canceled because of fears over the virus.


That’s understandable. But donated blood is a cornerstone of our public health system. Without it, certain surgeries and regular transfusions might have to be paused or halted altogether. And that means even more lives might be put at risk.


Here are the facts. Coronavirus can’t be spread via blood. If you’re in good health and meet the criteria to donate, you should do so now. Don’t know how to do so without a regularly scheduled blood drive? Head to the American Red Cross donation website to find an opportunity near you.


The Red Cross puts it succinctly: “Giving blood is considered an essential community service. As part of our nation’s critical infrastructure, healthy individuals can still donate in areas that have issued shelter in place declarations. The Red Cross also urges organizations to maintain scheduled blood drives. Donating is a safe process and people should not hesitate to give or receive blood or platelets. We have implemented additional precautions to ensure safety of our donors and staff.”


This need isn’t going to go away. Our health care system relies on a supply of healthy, available donated blood. If you can’t find an opportunity right away, there may be a chance in a few weeks, or even in a month or two. Regardless, if you’re able to donate you should do so.


The shutdowns associated with the coronavirus have stressed everyone. But most of us understand that they’re critical for public health. They will also likely last awhile.


As our lives seem to shrink in terms of scope — mainly taking place inside our homes and the immediate space outside — we can’t forget that we’re part of a larger system. Although we may not see them as regularly, other people still depend on us. And we still depend on them.


The bonds and needs of the community don’t disappear simply because of social distancing.


Your neighbors and the wider world depend on a readily available blood supply. That hasn’t and won’t change. Please donate.