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OTTUMWA — The Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center is asking that people donate blood, but they are making a change to how they’re asking people to do it.

Donors are being asked to set up appointments to donate, rather than just dropping in to the center’s facilities. The goal is to limit the number of people in those spaces at any given time and allow people to maintain safe distances from one another.

The COVID-19 outbreak has hit blood centers hard, shutting down the usual sources for casual donations. A statement from the center said almost all of the drives scheduled for educational facilities have been canceled along with the institutions themselves. Businesses have also cut back on what they are hosting.

All donors will be screened for signs of illness before donating, and surfaces at donation centers are being frequently cleaned.

Additional information on how the MVRBC is handling donations amid the outbreak is available at www.bloodcenter.org.

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