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Blood drives continue with safety precautions

By Staff | May 22, 2020

Jade Thomas, of Shenandoah Junction, follows the safety measure of wearing a mask as she gave blood at a Red Cross Blood Drive held at Fellowship Bible Church in Shenandoah Junction on Monday afternoon. Toni Milbourne

SHENANDOAH JUNCTION — With the closure of businesses, facilities and organizations due to COVID-19, the American Red Cross has had to reassess how they secure an ongoing supply of needed blood.

Blood drives are taking on a new look as safety precautions are top priority when scheduling the events. For the foreseeable future, drives are scheduled on an appointment-only basis and do not allow walk-ins.

A drive held locally this week at Fellowship Bible Church, in Shenandoah Junction, saw every time slot filled throughout the day. Red Cross staffers said a completely booked schedule is the norm during these changing times.

According to a Red Cross representative, drives scheduled in the tri-state area over the next few weeks are all completely booked. Because of those choosing to give, there is not currently any shortage of blood.

Jade Thomas, of Shenandoah Junction, gladly scheduled time to donate despite her anxiety over needles.

“It’s the finger prick that gets me the most,” Thomas said as she made her way to the check-in location. Once settled at the giving station and past the insertion of the needle, Thomas breathed a sigh of relief. Despite the nervousness, she said she will continue to be a blood donor.

Samantha Spitzer, a three-year cancer survivor, is unable to donate blood; however, she donated several hours during the drive to check-in those who were scheduled.

“I give my time here, because I can’t give my time there,” Spitzer said, referring to the tables where donors were giving.

“The top priority of the Red Cross is the safety of our donors, volunteers, employees and blood recipients, and we are committed to transparency with the American public during this evolving public health emergency,” reads the Red Cross website.

That mindset is clear, as safety precautions are key at blood drives now, requiring donors and staffers to wear face masks, and all materials and donor areas to be wiped down between donors.

In addition, social distancing is practiced in the donation area as well as in the areas for check-in, waiting and refreshment. Hand sanitizer is provided for donor use and temperatures are checked prior to a donor entering the donation site. A temperature of 99.6 or higher eliminates a donor from his or her ability to give.

Individuals are encouraged to continue giving blood, and can visit www.redcrossblood.org to find a drive and schedule an appointment. A blood donor card, driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in.

Individuals who are 17 years old in most states (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood.

The Red Cross currently says there is no data or evidence the coronavirus can be transmissible by blood transfusion, and there have been no reported cases worldwide of transmissions for any respiratory virus, including COVID-19.