The severe winter weather in parts of the country has forced blood drive cancellations, causing lifesaving blood donations to go uncollected. Minnesotans can help by giving blood now to help prevent delays in patient care.

The American Red Cross is testing all blood, platelet and plasma donations for COVID-19 antibodies. As part of that effort, plasma from whole blood donations that test positive for COVID-19 antibodies may now help current coronavirus patients in need of convalescent plasma transfusions. We are committed to helping others in meaningful ways during this pandemic.

Healthy individuals are needed to donate now to help patients counting on lifesaving blood. More than 80% of the blood collected by the American Red Cross comes from blood drives, which haven't returned to pre-pandemic levels, as schools opt for virtual learning and people continue to work from home.

Donating blood is a safe process and people should not hesitate to give or receive blood. Watch this video on the safety and need for blood donations. Right now, eligible and healthy donors are strongly urged to make an appointment to give soon.

Give blood with The American Red Cross in February and get a $5 Gift Card thanks to their partners at Amazon.

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This blood shortage could impact patients who need surgery, victims of car accidents and other emergencies, or patients fighting cancer. One of the most important things you can do to ensure we don’t have another health care crisis on top of coronavirus is to give now.

The U.S. Surgeon General says, “You can still go out and give blood. We’re worried about potential blood shortages. Social distancing does not have to mean social disengagement.”

LOOK: Answers to 30 common COVID-19 vaccine questions

While much is still unknown about the coronavirus and the future, what is known is that the currently available vaccines have gone through all three trial phases and are safe and effective. It will be necessary for as many Americans as possible to be vaccinated in order to finally return to some level of pre-pandemic normalcy, and hopefully these 30 answers provided here will help readers get vaccinated as soon they are able.