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Coronavirus spread cuts blood donations; Illinois blood supply providers ask for help

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Red Cross phlebotomist Sylena O'Brien, right, collected blood samples from Junior Stinson of Bloomington as he donated blood during a drive on Dec. 20, 2019, at Grossinger Motors Arena in Bloomington. Blood supply providers warned Wednesday that the supply is declining because of coronavirus and urged donors to give to prevent surgery delays.

BLOOMINGTON — The spread of the new strain of coronavirus has blood supply providers worried that blood on the shelves will decline as donors stay away.

But two organizations that provide blood to many hospitals in Central and southern Illinois want potential donors to know that donors are not at risk of contracting COVID-19 from giving blood.

"COVID-19 does not present a risk to the safety of blood products," said Kirby Winn, manager of public relations for the Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center, which includes the Central Illinois Community Blood Center and Community Blood Services of Illinois. 

"We have no evidence that coronavirus, or other respiratory virus, can be transmitted through blood transfusion," said Laura McGuire, external communications manager for American Red Cross biomedical field marketing and communications. Winn's and McGuire's comments both were made to The Pantagraph for a March 10 story.

Drives canceled over concern about the virus spread in public settings is beginning to impact the blood supply, they said.

Of last week, canceled drives an estimated 1,300 units of blood went uncollected, McGuire said.

"With the rise of coronavirus, that number will grow," she said.

The blood supply already was lower than usual because cold and flu season kept some donors away.

To make an appointment to donate blood with the Red Cross, visit RedCrossBlood.org or call 800-733-2767. For an appointment with Mississippi Valley or its affiliates, call 800-747-5401 or visit bloodcenter.org.

COLLECTION: Pantagraph coverage on the coronavirus

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As a precaution because of the coronavirus, Special Olympics Illinois announced it has cancelled this weekend's State Basketball Tournament in Bloomington-Normal and its Unified State Basketball Championships in Peoria. 

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Early voters concerned about the nationwide spread of COVID-19, the new strain of coronavirus, should wash their hands or use hand sanitizer before and after they vote or request a vote by mail ballot, Central Illinois election officials said.

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Here's the latest update on the cruise ship carrying a Bloomington couple that was forced to idle off the coast of California because of a cluster of coronavirus cases. 

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While there are no confirmed cases in Central Illinois of COVID-19, health professionals are prepared if the new strain of coronavirus spreads to Central Illinois and urge residents to reduce their risk.

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McLean County train passengers were given a clean bill of health Monday, a day after authorities said a suburban St. Louis woman who rode the train last week may have contracted coronavirus. Gov. J.B. Pritzker declared a state of emergency after the number of cases statewide rose to 11.

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Organizers of events in the Bloomington-Normal area are keeping a close eye on the evolving coronavirus situation and continuing cleaning practices but no cancellations have been announced.

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McLean County Health Department has been notified by state public health officials that there are no Amtrak passengers for which the health department needs to conduct follow up after an Amtrak passenger tested presumptive positive for the new strain of coronavirus.

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In the event of a pandemic, Bloomington-Normal city officials are prepared to respond.

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An Amtrak train that passed through Central Illinois and made a stop at the Bloomington-Normal Uptown Station was carrying a passenger that may test positive for the coronavirus. The woman was on the train to St. Louis.

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The latest from The Pantagraph on the coronavirus situation in Central Illinois. Updates throughout the day at pantagraph.com. 

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A Bloomington couple hopes to return to Illinois this week, after their vacation on a cruise ship was extended after 21 people on board tested positive for COVID-19, also known as the coronavirus.

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Sunday saw three big developments with coronavirus in the state, including an Amtrak passenger traveling between St. Louis and Chicago found t…

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An Amtrak train that passed through Central Illinois and made a stop at the Bloomington-Normal Uptown Station was carrying a passenger that may test positive for the coronavirus. The woman was on the train to St. Louis.

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NORMAL — Concern about coronavirus in Illinois grew steadily Sunday as authorities announced an Amtrak train may have carried an infected pass…

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A Bloomington couple hopes to return to Illinois this week, after their vacation on a cruise ship was extended after 21 people on board tested positive for COVID-19, also known as the coronavirus.

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Jordan and Barbara May continue to be quarantined at a Georgia Air Force Base and have mixed emotions as some of their former cruise ship mates begin returning to their homes.

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On Tuesday morning, if you want to find the owner of Snapper’s Bar and Grill, Joe Sartie, drop in on him in downtown Clinton. His door will be open. Sartie is one of a handful of owners struggling with Governor JB Pritzker’s order to close bars and restaurants.

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A Woodford County man with COVID-19 virus is "mildly ill," his pastor said Sunday. McLean County has no confirmed cases, and fewer than 10 tests have been submitted, authorities said.

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When Marianne Manko arrived at Bloomington's airport Friday morning, she wasn't surprised to see more cleaning crews. She knew airports were doing as much as possible to fight the spread of the coronavirus.

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Cancellations and postponements of events increase daily as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, but what happens in a situation where options are limited such as jails and prisons? In McLean County, a new facility has helped ease some concerns.

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Updated information on coronavirus (COVID-19) is available through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; the McLean County Health De…

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About two years ago, Unit 5 partnered with the Eastern Illinois Foodbank to help families in need in McLean County. Once per month, the foodmobile distributes food and groceries to low-income families and seniors, comes to Normal West.

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Coronavirus slammed into Central Illinois Saturday as authorities confirmed a man from Woodford County, a person from Cumberland County and a patient from Sangamon County tested positive for coronavirus. Two cases were also reported in St. Clair County. They are the first five cases in Illinois south of Chicagoland.

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BLOOMINGTON — First Presbyterian Church in Normal and First Christian Church of Bloomington have canceled in-person worship services for Sunday.

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Sunday morning services at Wesley United Methodist Church are expected to take place “as usual, although not ‘as usual,’” said its senior pastor, the Rev. Sara Isbell.

Contact Paul Swiech at 309-820-3275. Follow him on Twitter: @pg_swiech.

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