Donating blood during a pandemic

It was not uncommon before COVID-19 to see blood drives anywhere and everywhere, from college campuses to corporate breakrooms. But with an increasing number of people remaining close to home, the number of community blood drives has dropped significantly.

“The Red Cross is a volunteer-driven organization beginning with our volunteer donors and blood-drive sponsors,” said Mary Brant, communications manager for the Red Cross Northern New England Region. “We are able to fulfill our mission because of their strong support.”

Someone needs blood every 2 seconds

The American Red Cross provides approximately 40% of the U.S.’s blood and blood components; approximately 80% of that supply typically comes from community blood drives. Nearly 10,000 units of blood are needed in the U.S. daily along with 7,000 units of plasma. The drop in the number of blood drives has impacted the blood supply available for surgeries and the treatment of cancers and blood disorders.

Ensuring safety during drives

The Red Cross has added additional steps to their already stringent protocols to ensure both staff and donors are safe, including:

  • Staff and donors are required to wear masks
  • Staff and donors must be symptom-free for 14 days prior to donation
  • Temperatures of staff and donors are checked before entering a drive
  • Hand sanitizer is provided for use before and during the donation process
  • Beds are spaced to follow social distancing practices
  • Surfaces and equipment are sterilized frequently
  • Staff wears gloves and changes them prior to each donor
  • Donor-touched areas are routinely wiped down

Red Cross to offer COVID-19 antibody tests with donation

The Red Cross is conducting COVID-19 antibody tests with each blood donation. An antibody test assesses whether your immune system has responded to an infection, not whether you currently have the virus. Donors who test positive may be able to help patients in their fight against the disease; convalescent plasma is seen as a potential treatment for COVID-19.

TideSmart to host drive on Sept. 2

“We are very fortunate at TideSmart to have a large campus, including a wide-open logistics center that provides plenty of room to safely enter and exit and space donors,” said TideSmart CEO Steve Woods. “We have traditionally held two to three blood drives on our campus each year and with the need so great during the COVID-19 crisis, we were happy to lend a hand.”

Register for Sept. 2 blood drive at TideSmart (12 PM – 5 PM):

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