SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The American Red Cross is facing a severe blood shortage after the coronavirus pandemic caused blood drives around the country to be canceled.
Now, more than ever, healthy people are being asked to donate to help those depending on lifesaving blood. As of March 20, more than 6,000 Red Cross blood drives have been canceled across the United States. These cancellations have resulted in 200,000 fewer blood donations.
“We’re talking about cancer patients, emergency room visits, you know people that have been in a car accident," Stephen Walsh, American Red Cross Spokesperson spokesperson, said. "All the everyday occurrences that blood donations are needed for.”
Some of the biggest challenges the American Red Cross faces are finding volunteers, donors and temporary locations.
“What’s particularly impacting us is the closure of schools, church services, and large workforce workplaces," Walsh explained.
Dr. Chris Gresens is the Senior Chief Medical Officer for Vitalants, one of the nation’s largest blood service providers. He said they're also struggling in part due to public perception and fear of getting sick. However, he’s assuring donors every precaution is being taken to keep them safe while they save lives.
“We are following social distance requirements, we are just now starting to do temperatures of everyone before they come on to our various premises," said Dr. Gresens. "We are making sure to sanitize and disinfect our areas more robustly than ever and we were certainly no slouches to begin with.”
The American Red Cross says they understand why people may be hesitant to come out for a blood drive, but its team has also taken precautions to ensure the safety of their donors. Those precautions include:
- Checking the temperature of staff and donors before entering the blood drive
- Providing hand sanitizer before and throughout the donation process
- Spacing the beds to follow social distance practices between donors
- Increased disinfecting of surfaces and all equipment
The Red Cross has released the strict safety protocols each employee already is required to follow to help prevent the spread of any type of infection. These protocols include:
- Wearing, changing gloves often
- Routinely wiping down anything donors touch
- Using sterile collection sets for every donation
- preparing the arm prior to donation with an aseptic scrub
The Red Cross says it is important to note that there is no evidence and no reported cases of the coronavirus being transmitted by a blood transfusion.
To find a Red Cross donation drive near you, click here.
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