Blood Donation Centers Take Measures to Protect Donors, Prevent Potential Shortage
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
No. 050 – March 19, 2020
Contact: Bob Wheaton, 517-241-2112
LANSING, MICH. As the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) continues to urge residents to practice social distancing to combat the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), officials today called on healthy residents to continue blood donations to help the state avoid a life-threatening blood shortage.
“I was proud to take a few minutes this week and do my part to prevent disruptions in our blood supply, even as we combat the spread of COVID-19,” said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who stopped by a local Red Cross office to show Michiganders how safe and easy it is to continue to blood donations and drives during the COVID-19 outbreak. “I urge healthy Michiganders to keep or make appointments to do the same, while following the proper precautions from state health experts that our Red Cross partners have put in place.”
With workplaces, colleges and universities closing, employers asking staff to work remotely and state restrictions on assemblages, the number of blood drives and individual donations have dropped significantly. Through March 18, nearly 4,500 Red Cross blood drives have been canceled across the country due to coronavirus concerns, resulting in more than 150,000 fewer blood donations. In the Michigan Region, over 200 drives, representing more than 6,000 units, have been cancelled. This blood shortage could impact patients who need surgery, victims of car accidents and other emergencies, or patients suffering from cancer.
“Even in these challenging times, a sufficient supply of lifesaving blood for patients is critical to the health of Michigan residents,” said Robert Gordon, director of MDHHS. “It is important to know that receiving blood, and with community mitigation steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19, donating blood is still a safe and important process for healthy individuals.”
The Red Cross has taken the following mitigation measures to help keep blood recipients, staff and donors safe:
- The Red Cross only collects blood from individuals who are healthy and feeling well at the time of donation – and who meet other eligibility requirements, available at RedCrossBlood.org.
- All individuals will be prescreened by checking their temperature before they enter any Red Cross blood drive or donation center, including staff and volunteers.
- At each blood drive and donation center, Red Cross employees follow thorough safety protocols including wearing gloves, routinely wiping down donor-touched areas, using sterile collection sets for every donation, and preparing the arm for donation with an aseptic scrub.
- The average blood drives are only 20-30 people rather than large gatherings. Additional spacing has been implemented within each blood drive set up to incorporate social distancing measures between donation beds and stations within the blood drive.
“The need for blood is constant,” said Kelly King, executive director of the American Red Cross Mid-Michigan Chapter. “If you are healthy, feeling well and eligible to give, please schedule an appointment to donate now.”
Individuals who are healthy and eligible to give blood or platelets, are urged to make an appointment to donate by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App on mobile phones, visiting RedCrossBlood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).