As the country is nearing a full year of dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, The American Red Cross is still dealing with a significant decrease in blood donations.
The problem is, there aren’t enough places to host blood drives.
“We usually collect at schools, colleges and businesses and of course right now a lot of schools are not letting people in and businesses, a lot of people are working from home. So, we created a community model plan. So, what we are doing is setting up in people’s communities. So not where you work or go to school, but where you live,” explained district manager of donor recruitment, Autumn Moore.
Moore says the organization has implemented several health precautions. Making the donation process safe amid the pandemic.
“We do a temperature check when you first come in. We ask you to read over a few questions to make sure you are symptom free. After that point in time, we always have masks on. Everything stays six feet apart. All of our snacks are individually wrapped. It’s a very safe process,” she said.
The Red Cross has been and continues testing for COVID-19 antibodies when people donate blood. Some donors may not have even know they had the virus.
“We are continuing to test for the antibodies. So, if you come and donate, within two weeks on the blood donor app or if you go to redcrossdonor.org you can get your results back if you had the antibodies. So, you might not have even known you had COVID, a lot of people don’t have symptoms,” said Moore. “What we are doing is we need convalescent plasma. So, if you’ve had COVID, we really encourage you to come donate because there has been a 250% increase since October of hospital distribution of the convalescent plasma. We are trying to give everyone the best chance possible who is fighting COVID,” she added.
With the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out underway, Moore says receiving the vaccine does not affect people’s ability to donate.
“You can absolutely still donate. As long as you are symptom free. With the Moderna and Pfizer, there is no waiting period. If you had it that morning, you can donate that afternoon as long as there are no symptoms,” she explained.
For more information about donating blood or plasma with the American Red Cross, visit their website.