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If you've had COVID-19 and haven't been vaccinated for it, county officials are looking for your help.

A countywide COVID-19 blood and plasma drive is set for Thursday afternoon, Jan. 21, in the south parking lot of the Gainesville Civic Center, 311 S. Weaver St.

Blood and plasma needs are urgent, especially as hospitalization rates have increased with the pandemic coronavirus, according to information provided by Gainesville Fire-Rescue spokeswoman Tamara Grimes-Sieger.

If you have had and recovered from COVID-19, but not yet had the vaccine, your plasma may be used to save the lives of others, Grimes-Sieger said.

Three buses will be at the civic center parking. Two will collect whole blood and one will collect plasma only from those who have recovered from COVID-19, defined as having recovered from symptoms for at least 14 days. Recovered COVID-19 patients have the antibody-rich plasma needed for current COVID-19 patients to recover. Rarer blood types AB, B+ and others are particularly needed.

Each plasma donation can help up to three people, said Grimes-Sieger, the blood drive coordinator.

Whole blood donors may sign up ahead of time at https://ww3.greatpartners.org/donor/schedules/drive_schedule/121536 before midnight tonight, Wednesday, Jan. 20. Walk-in donors will also be accepted.

The two whole blood donation buses will accept donors from 12:15-6:45 p.m. The plasma donation bus will operate 12:15-5:45 p.m. but appointments to donate plasma have filled up, Grimes-Sieger said.

Recovered COVID-19 patients can no longer donate convalescent plasma if they have received the COVID-19 vaccine.

Free COVID-19 antibody testing will be available for all blood donors. Free Mavs Gear and Whataburger will also be given to donors.

For more information, call Yolanda Alsides with Carter BloodCare at 817-751-9558.

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