By Brandon Martin
The American Red Cross is still accepting blood donations according to Jonathan McNamara, communications director for the organization in Virginia.
Like the rest of society, the agency is making adjustments to prevent the spread of COVID-19 to patients and staff, but that doesn’t mean that donations have dried up.
Instead, McNamara said that the organization is pushing potential donors to schedule appointments instead of participating in blood drives.
“These measures help us manage the flow of donors as well as increase the safety of our staff and volunteers,” he said.
Following the initial news of COVID-19, McNamara said that the thousands of blood drives cancelled nationwide led to concerns that the organization wouldn’t have enough supply to help during emergencies.
After reaching out to various communities, he said that those concerns have dissipated and “we are seeing positive numbers.”
Part of the reason that the numbers have rebounded is because of new guidelines that the organization has implemented in regards to donors.
According to their website, the Red Cross has increased its vigilance in a number of safety precautions, including asking individuals to postpone donations for 28 days if they have travelled to China, Iran, Italy or South Korea. Additionally, those diagnosed with COVID-19, or who have come in contact with someone suspected of having COVID-19, are also asked to postpone their donations.
“Patients who have fully recovered following a COVID-19 diagnosis may have antibodies in their blood plasma that can help those with serious or immediately life-threatening COVID-19 infections,” the website stated.
In addition, staff are providing hand sanitizer for use before and throughout the donation process. Enhanced disinfecting of equipment and pre-donation temperature checks are also being conducted.
Donors in beds or in the waiting and refreshment areas are adhering to social distancing guidelines. Blankets used by platelet, Power Red and AB Elite donors are being laundered after every use, and donors are encouraged to bring their own blankets.
Based on his observations, McNamara said that he hasn’t seen a decrease in volunteer interest. He also commended workers for their “passion of service.”
Outside of their work with blood donations, McNamara said the organization still is responding to other day-to-day operations, such as maintaining supplies for disaster relief.
He believes that maintaining normal functions and providing support is how the Red Cross can make the most impact during the COVID-19 outbreak.
In addition to blood donation services, the agency also provides disaster relief for home fires, wildfires, hurricanes and floods. Internationally, the organization helps neighborhoods prepare for future disasters and ensures that children receive the vaccines to stay healthy. They also provide deployment and emergency services for military members and their families.