But after the organization alerted the public that there would be a severe shortage of blood donations, donors stepped up and rescheduled their appointments, said Jan Hale, communications manager for the American Red Cross.
“We saw an unprecedented number of blood drives canceling,” Hale said. “With this pandemic, things seem to change hour by hour, so there was a real concern over making sure that we had enough blood donations available.”
With the surge of donors rescheduling appointments, the American Red Cross seems to have avoided any shortages in the short term, Hale said. But, she added, there is always a need for blood donations, especially during a pandemic.
“These are such uncertain and unprecedented times that we would just urge people to remember to keep blood donation appointments and to make those new blood donation appointments in the weeks ahead,” Hale said. "That will help us ensure a stable supply throughout the pandemic.”
Hale said donors should rest assured that every donation site follows the highest standards of safety and infection control.
“We have also added safety precautions that include checking the temperature of our staff and our donors before entering a blood drive to make sure that their temperature is acceptable,” Hale said. “And we are also providing hand sanitizer that we are urging people to use before they enter the drive ... as well as throughout the donation process.”
Most importantly, Hale said, every donation site is following strict social distancing guidelines by keeping donors at least 6 feet apart at every step of the process.
“Our staff is routinely disinfecting surfaces, the equipment and donor touched areas,” Hale said. “They're also wearing gloves, changing them often and wearing basic face masks.”
Hale said she hopes people continue to look online for blood drives near them so that the American Red Cross can continue to make sure hospitals have the blood they need.
“We're going to get through this together," she said.