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Coronavirus Live Updates: Plasma Donations In High Demand Amid COVID-19 Pandemic


This post will be updated today, Thursday, July 23, and through the week with the latest information on COVID-19 in South Florida.

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WLRN staff continues to add to community resource lists, including this article on where kids and families can get food while schools are closed, and this post about whether and where to get tested for coronavirus.

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Donating Your Plasma After COVID-19: The Do’s and Don’ts

Updated Thursday at 11:45 a.m.

Doctors across the country and in South Florida hospitals are continuing to use convalescent plasma to treat people with COVID-19. That's plasma from people who have recovered from the virus to give antibodies to people currently fighting the virus. The FDA admits results have been promising so far, and convalescent plasma has been used with other respiratory infections in the past, but the treatment for COVID-19 specifically is still being investigated.

Orders from hospitals for these transfusions during the pandemic are up more than 500 percent in Florida and the southeast, according to the blood center OneBlood. The center began collecting convalescent plasma in April.

Senior vice president of corporate communications and public relations for OneBlood, Susan Forbes, told WLRN the blood center is seeing doctors use it earlier in patients’ treatment. 

"Hospitals and doctors have limited options of what can be used to treat these patients,” Forbes said. “It has really moved to the forefront of being a treatment option and they're using it earlier to help these patients … It's important that people step forward to be this convalescent plasma donor."

Forbes would not disclose how much hospitals pay OneBlood in service fees for units of convalescent plasma. One person's plasma donation can treat up to three COVID-19 patients.

Donors for convalescent plasma have to prove by submitting an FDA-approved lab test that they had COVID-19 or that they have the antibodies. They also have to have been recovered for at least two weeks before donating. Once recovered, you can donate plasma every 28 days if you continue to meet requirements. The donation itself takes between 30 and 40 minutes, the entire process takes about an hour if you include paperwork once you get there.

Forbes said it’s taking an around-the-clock effort to fulfill hospitals orders for convalescent plasma. After testing the donation, which can take between 12 and 24 hours, the units are taken by couriers to hospitals. 

“We have never experienced such a demand for a blood product as we are experiencing with convalescent plasma … as those donations are made they are taken to our biologics facilities and they begin to be processed.” she said. “We need more donors to come in … the need is just only escalating.” 

Forbes emphasized there's still a need for regular blood donors to continue to give to keep the ready blood supply going. OneBlood is taking blood and plasma donations by appointment during the pandemic. 

"As businesses and schools and colleges and universities and movie theaters and all these places where you would traditionally see the big red bus for a blood drive — those places started to close. People started doing remote work,” Forbes said. “Well, that's where we go to have blood drives."

— Caitie Switalski / WLRN News

Florida COVID-19 Cases Increase By 10,249, Deaths Increase By 174

Updated Thursday at 10:53 a.m.

The Florida Department of Health confirmed an additional 10,249 cases on Thursday. The state has a total of 389,868 confirmed positive cases, according to the state's health department.

Thursday's update included 174 new deaths, the highest increase of deaths in one day so far. Total statewide number of deaths increased to 5,632. Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach County make up 2,617 of the reported deaths. Monroe County has 6 reported deaths due to COVID-19.

- WLRN News

COVID-19 Test Result Delays Worsen In South Florida

Updated Thursday at 8:35 a.m.

As COVID-19 cases spike in South Florida, the rush for tests has clogged the system, slowing turnaround time to get results to a week or more — much longer than the 48 hours public health experts say is needed to help control the pandemic.

“Before this thing exploded, we were very close to the point where I could say with confidence that anyone in Miami-Dade County that wanted a test could get a test,” said Maurice Kemp, the deputy Miami-Dade mayor who oversees the county’s testing sites. “We’re not at that point anymore.”

The lag time has ripple effects for efforts to contain the virus, making contact tracing less accurate and potentially exposing more people to asymptomatic carriers. It also has economic impacts, taking workers away from jobs for extended periods while awaiting results.

To read more, visit our news partner at the Miami Herald.

- Alex Harris and Doug Hanks/Miami Herald

Palm Beach County Schools To Start August 31, Distance Learning Only

Updated on Thursday at 6:20 a.m.

The Palm Beach County School Board voted on Wednesday to extend the beginning of classes until August 31, three weeks later than originally planned. The school board also agreed to start the school year with distance learning only and will offer in-person learning once it is safe to reopen school buildings. The new plan states the last day of school would be June 18. 

- WLRN News


Mucarsel-Powell Files Bill For Child-care Providers To Access PPE For Coronavirus

Updated Thursday at 6:10 a.m.

U.S. Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell introduced a bill Wednesday that would allow for child-care centers to use federal funds to invest in personal protective equipment and cleaning materials, as providers are facing steep challenges to remain open during the pandemic.

The new Ensuring Protection in Childcare (EPIC) Act is part of a larger federal child care package proposal, the Child Care is Essential Act, that is set to be addressed in the U.S. House of Representatives next week. The bill would create a $50 billion fund within the Child Care and Development Block Grant program to support the industry through the COVID-19 crisis.

If it passes, Mucarsel-Powell’s legislation would assure that child-care providers who apply for the federal grant program can use some of the funds to acquire any necessary equipment to keep child-care workers and children safe.

To read more, visit our news partner at the Miami Herald.

- Bianca Padró Ocasio/Miami Herald

Pandemic Takes Toll On Court Finding

Updated Thursday at 6 a.m.

Florida’s court system is taking a financial hit from the COVID-19 pandemic. A report issued this week by the state Revenue Estimating Conference said court fees, known as “Article V” fees, in the 2019-2020 fiscal year were $48.3 million below what had been estimated in December, before the pandemic largely shut down courthouses and scaled back business activity.
The 2019-2020 fiscal year ended June 30, and the report also points to reduced estimates of court fees in the coming years.

“The shortfalls across the judicial system (county court, circuit court, family court and traffic court) and the clerks were widespread, leading to a combined loss across all categories and revenue recipients of $48.3 million,” the report said.

“This loss was largely induced by the impact of the worldwide pandemic on court operations; the statewide safer at home order regarding essential services which --- among other things --- affected the amount of traffic on the roads; various state and local government office closures; and actions to provide forbearance on delinquent payments and foreclosures.”

The report also said foreclosure filings in the coming years are expected to be higher than in earlier estimates.

- News Service of Florida

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