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The COVID-19 pandemic is far from over.

As cases rise throughout the country due to highly transmissible variants and subvariants, we are still feeling the effects of the virus. Although Whitfield County is in the low COVID transmission level according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID Data Tracker, you probably know someone who has caught the virus recently.

COVID has seemed to touch just about every aspect of our daily lives. Vaccines, drug treatments and acquired immunity to the virus have sharply reduced the number of COVID deaths.

This week, Blood Assurance — a nonprofit whose mission is “To provide a safe and adequate supply of blood and blood components, in a cost effective manner, to every area patient in need — said Northwest Georgia’s blood supply was “in dire need of replenishment.”

On Wednesday, Blood Assurance had only 19 units of the universal blood type O-negative on its shelves — the organization prefers to have at least 180 units of O-negative available every day to send to local hospitals. Also, Blood Assurance reported low inventory numbers for O-positive, A-positive and A-negative blood types.

Christopher Swafford, chief operating officer for Blood Assurance, chalked up the donation deficit to two main culprits: summer vacations and the recent rise in COVID cases.

• “Schools are out and lots of people are vacationing and enjoying time with their families,” Swafford said. “Donating blood isn’t something folks are thinking about doing right now, but based on our current numbers, if there was ever a time to donate, that time is now. Lives are at risk when there’s no blood available.”

• “The turnout at many of our mobile blood drives, whether at a business or congregation, has been less than stellar,” Swafford said. “Based on our conversations with staff, we know a lot of people are at home battling the illness.”

Last week, Blood Assurance offered those who donated blood their choice of a $20 Amazon or Mastercard gift card. More summer incentives will be announced on the Blood Assurance website (www.bloodassurance.org) in the near future.

To schedule an appointment, donors can visit www.bloodassurance.org/schedule, call (800) 962-0628 or text BAGIVE to 999777. Walk-ins are accepted.

To be eligible to donate blood, you must be at least 17 years old (16 with parental consent), weigh 110 pounds or more and be in good health. Donors are asked to drink plenty of fluids — avoiding caffeine — and eat a meal that is rich in iron prior to donating.

If you are able, we ask that you take time out of your day to donate blood and give the gift of life.

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