GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - The news that Zika virus cases in south Florida are likely to be the first U.S.-based infections have suspended blood drive services in two counties there, it's business as usual in South Mississippi.
The American Red Cross Blood Services van was filled with donors Friday afternoon at Lowe's in Gulfport.
But it doesn't mean officials are shying away from the Zika virus.
Blood centers in Miami and Fort Lauderdale were asked to immediately stop collecting blood until each unit of blood can be screened.
In general, officials are asking donors to self-defer or postpone blood donation for four weeks if they are at risk of Zika virus exposure.
But - bottom line – it's important to give. Officials say each pint of blood helps to save up to three lives.
"American Red Cross is continuing to take donations no matter what happens in any other areas, no matter what things are going there's never a break in the need for blood," said Denise Smith, donor recruitment account manager for American Red Cross Biomed Services. "Patients don't know a break. If they need blood, they need it now."
Long-time donor Carl Wayne Shaw of Lyman, agrees.
"People need it every day, and people in the hospitals need it and you never know when you're going to need it."
The American Red Cross is planning several different blood drives in the next few weeks. The big one: The Hurricane Katrina blood drive Aug. 29 and 30 and Edgewater Mall in Biloxi.