ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) — The American Red Cross is experiencing shortages in blood donations, amid the coronavirus pandemic.
As of March 13, nearly 1,500 blood drives were canceled across the nation, resulting in 46,000 fewer blood donations. The Western New York region—which includes the Twin Tiers, Buffalo, Rochester and Binghamton areas—experienced at least 25 drive cancellations, resulting in 730 uncollected donations.
As the virus continues to spread, the Amerian Red Cross is anticipating the number of blood drive cancellations to increase. With the worry of the nation’s blood supply becoming at risk, the organization says now is the time to give blood.
According to the Red Cross, there is no data to suggest COVID-19 can be transmitted by blood transfusion and there have been no reported cases of transfusion transmission for any respiratory virus—including the coronavirus—worldwide.
Tiffany Millerd is the Volunteer Board Chair of the American Red Cross’s Finger Lakes Chapter. Located in Corning, the Finger Lakes Chapter serves the counties of Chemung, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben, Wayne and Yates.
“It will definitely impact our hospitals and patients if we have such a critical shortage,” Millerd said. “As community blood drives are canceled out of fear, the Red Cross is taking extra precautions. We’re trying to ensure the safety of all of our staff and donors.”
The safety precautions include having social distancing beds available, temperature checks of both members and donors before they enter a facility, extra sanitation, available hand sanitizer, and constant glove changes for staff members.
“We want everyone to come together and support each other and to be confident that we are taking the precautions to keep everyone healthy and safe,” Millerd said. “We want to make sure that everything is done in our power to keep everyone healthy.”
The American Red Cross encourages healthy, eligible donors to make an appointment to donate blood or platelets as soon as possible. You can do so by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting www.redcrossblood.org, or calling 1-800-REDCROSS.
“It’s just a very trying time,” said Millerd. “We need to make sure that we have the community support for our residents, statewide and nationwide.”