As the country continues to follow social distancing guidelines to help curb the spread of COVID-19, many of us are experiencing feelings of stress, fear and nervousness. These feelings are normal, and people typically bounce back after difficult times. For now, these measures are critical to help slow the spread of disease to avoid overwhelming the health care system so ill patients can be cared for over time.
So what does “social distancing” mean? According to public health officials, social distancing is deliberately increasing the physical space between people to avoid spreading illness. Here’s how you can help:
- Listen to and follow the directions of your state and local authorities.
- Stay home if you can and avoid any non-essential travel.
- Keep at least six feet away from other people if you must go out in public.
- Avoid eating or drinking in restaurants, bars and food courts. Use drive-thru, pickup or delivery options.
- Avoid visiting nursing homes, retirement or long-term care facilities.
- Stay connected virtually with loved ones through video calls, phone calls, texts or social media. Read more tips for coping with stress during COVID-19.
BLOOD DONATIONS ARE ESSENTIAL Even during this stressful time, the need for blood is constant, and volunteer donors are the only source of blood for those in need. We should all practice social distancing, but it’s important to know that blood drives are not considered “mass gatherings” because they are controlled events with trained staff and appropriate safety measures to protect donors and recipients. Donating blood is a safe process and people should not hesitate to give or receive blood.
“[Y]ou can still go out and give blood. We’re worried about potential blood shortages in the future. Social distancing does not have to mean social disengagement,” said U.S. Surgeon General, Jerome M. Adams.
Like a hospital, grocery store, or pharmacy, a blood drive is essential to ensuring the health of the community, and the Red Cross will continue to hold blood drives during this challenging time to help meet patient needs. Each Red Cross blood drive and donation center follows the highest standards of safety and infection control, including:
- Checking temperatures of staff and donors before entering a drive to make sure they are healthy.
- Providing hand sanitizer for use before the drive, as well as throughout the donation process.
- Following social distancing between donors including entry, donation and refreshment areas.
- Routinely disinfecting surfaces, equipment and donor-touched areas.
- Wearing gloves, and changing gloves often.
- Securing basic face masks for our employees and volunteers who will be in close proximity with donors for a prolonged period of time.
PLEASE GIVE BLOOD IN WEEKS AHEAD Thanks to the many who gave blood and scheduled upcoming appointments, the Red Cross has been able to meet immediate patient needs. During this uncertain time, we encourage individuals to keep scheduled blood donation appointments and to make new blood donation appointments for the weeks ahead to ensure a stable supply throughout this pandemic.
It’s important to remember that blood is perishable and cannot be stockpiled. With no known end date in this fight against coronavirus, the Red Cross needs the help of blood and platelet donors and blood drive hosts to maintain a sufficient blood supply for weeks to come.
This is the time to take care of one another. If you are healthy and feeling well, please make an appointment to donate mid-April and after by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).
FIND COVID-19 SAFETY UPDATES Visit redcross.org/coronavirus for more information on COVID-19 safety. For the latest information, please visit the CDC website at cdc.gov/covid19.
If you live outside the United States, health and safety tips can be found through the World Health Organization and by following your local Red Cross or Red Crescent society’s social media channels (directory).