Blood drives canceled throughout Connecticut put the American Red Cross at risk of a blood shortage with the growing concerns over coronavirus.
Kelly Isenor, external communications director for the Connecticut Red Cross chapter, said the Red Cross is able to meet immediate blood needs right now but are short in blood drives.
“A couple of weeks ago we were staring down a big blood shortage over coronavirus,” Isenor said. “During mid-March, we saw a lot of blood drives being canceled or rescheduled and the donor pool just wasn’t there.”
The Red Cross depends on institutions like UConn for blood donations.
“The interesting thing is that 80% of our blood drives for the Red Cross are at community sites like schools, colleges and churches,” Isenor said. “Those were the sites that were being closed so our team here in Connecticut has been working to try and find alternatives.”
The State Training Police Academy in Meriden has partnered with the Red Cross to collect blood.
“They came on board and started running blood drives from their site to give the Red Cross the opportunity to still collect blood, but we have to remind people that donating blood is as safe a process as possible,” Isenor said.
Extra steps have been added to the donation process to comply with COVID guidelines, Isenor said.
“Before you can enter a donation site, we are going to take all temperatures outside and only allow donors with a maximum temperature of 99.5 degrees,” Isenor said. “We have also been asking people to sanitize at the door before entering the donor site and throughout the donation process.”
Chairs and beds have been moved farther apart to comply with social distancing, and never allow more than 25 people in a donor site at a time.
“We space our chairs six feet apart and suppose you and a family member are both donating, even though you may live together we are asking that each person stand six feet apart,” Isenor said. “The donor beds are spaced at least six feet apart as well, and in the recession area, after you donate are also six feet apart. We ask our staff to wipe down surfaces every time something is touched or sat on by a donor, not just chairs and tables, but also equipment and the laptops used for taking the health history.”
As blood drives have been canceled nationwide to mitigate the spread of the virus, the @RedCross of #Connecticut is seeking donors to call ahead and make appointments that will allow for social distancing.
— Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz (@LGSusanB) March 19, 2020
Donations are encouraged in order to prevent the Red Cross from facing a blood shortage, Isenor said.
“Unfortunately what some donors are seeing is that there’s just not as many appointments available,” Isenor said. “There is no end date in sight for this pandemic, so even if people can’t get an appointment for this week or next week, the need is still going to be there and hospitals are really going to need blood so we encourage donors to make the first appointment they can, even if its three weeks from now.”
Naiela Suleiman is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.