The Red Cross faces a national blood supply shortage following a growing number of blood drive cancellations because of coronavirus precautions.
Since the beginning of the month, around 130 blood drives in the region have been called off, according to Tiffany Turner, an external communications manager for the Tennessee Valley and River Valley regions of the American Red Cross. The number of cancelled drives correlates to a loss of 5,164 blood donations, she said.
“After we meet our blood needs here at home, we have a national system where we’re able to transport blood to other states that need it and vice versa,” Turner said.
Turner said that high school and college students make up around 80 percent of the organization’s total blood donations. When school is not in session, the organization looks to local businesses and churches for support.
In addition to bed spacing, Turner explained that the organization will be exercising additional safety measures when interacting with donors. These measures include taking temperatures of staff members and donors, frequent changing of gloves, hand sanitizer stations and a greater emphasis on disinfecting equipment.
The Red Cross is making an effort to follow up with businesses and organizations which had scheduled blood drives, but plans for postponing aren’t confirmed.
“They don’t know if they’ll be able to return back to classes, or if they’ll be able to return back to work to ensure the safety of their employees. So, it’s a day-by-day situation,” Turner said.
Turner said that a few grocery stores and churches have agreed to have mobile donation centers on site to be able to allow residents to continue donating.
The Red Cross’ regional headquarters in Nashville is urging healthy donors to schedule blood donation appointments online. More information can be found at www.redcrossblood.org.