Gov. Ned Lamont speaks at a press conference on Tuesday.

Canceled Blood Drives Due to Coronavirus Concerns Spark Blood Shortages — Public Urged to Donate

In the past few weeks, as cancellations and shutdowns due to the Coronavirus have become widespread, nearly 2,700 Red Cross blood drives have been canceled across the United States, 46 that were to be held in Connecticut — that’s about 1,299 fewer blood donations than would otherwise have been donated in the Connecticut alone. 

“A lot of people are no longer donating blood,” said Gov. Ned Lamont at a Tuesday afternoon press conference in Hartford. “We need your blood donations now. You don’t have to worry. You’re totally separated in terms of distance and separation. No worry in terms of COVID. This is a time we need folks to step up and the Red Cross needs your help.”

“I am looking at the refrigerator that contains only one day’s supply of blood for the hospital,” said Dr. Robertson Davenport, director of transfusion medicine at Michigan Medicine in Ann Arbor. “The hospital is full. There are patients who need blood and cannot wait.”

“We are in a severe shortage and I don’t say that lightly. Typically, we run about 17 blood drives per day in the state and each donor helps to save three lives,” said Lauren Ashe, an account manager for the Red Cross in Connecticut. “high schools in the state have two to four blood drives a year — that’s 30-50 units every time they run one. We now have to replace all that blood because all the schools are closed.”

Cancellations are expected to continue throughout the spring, according to the American Red Cross, something that is an increasing concern for those in need including victims of car accidents, emergencies, new mothers and cancer patients. Ashe said that with the help of donation centers, hotels and churches, several events have been rescheduled.

“I am looking at the refrigerator that contains only one day’s supply of blood for the hospital,” said Dr. Robertson Davenport, director of transfusion medicine at Michigan Medicine in Ann Arbor. “The hospital is full. There are patients who need blood and cannot wait.”

The Red Cross is working to make sure that the public blood donation locations have additional precautions in place to make sure that the process is safe for anyone who is able to donate. The precautions include temperature checks for all staff and donors prior to entering the facility, providing hand sanitizer, increased spacing between beds and more frequent disinfection of surfaces and equipment.

“Go to the website and then come donate blood. Also, we are asking for people to contact us if they have a location that we could hold a drive at.”

“This morning I was doing registration at an event. We have a stop sign at which each donor is asked have you traveled, have you had coronavirus, have you cared for anyone with coronavirus, do you feel healthy today. If the answer is no to all of those, then we take their temperature,” Ashe said. “If it is under 99, then they are let inside.”

According to the Red Cross, there is no evidence that the coronavirus or any other respiratory virus can be transmitted by blood transfusion.

For information about donation locations and times, find them on the web at redcrossblood.org

“The locations and times are changing so fast, it all feels fluid,” Ashe said. “Go to the website and then come donate blood. Also, we are asking for people to contact us if they have a location that we could hold a drive at.”

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