The current public health emergency caused by the Coronavirus Outbreak is posing big challenges for the Red Cross, especially as, no matter what, our work in the community will always continue - including collecting lifesaving blood. During a natural disaster-related crisis, the best of humanity often shines: strangers step-up to help neighbors in need and selfless individuals open their hearts and wallets to help lift-up entire communities as they begin the road to recovery. In the midst of this current and unprecedented coronavirus emergency, the American Red Cross is asking people to help in a different way—by practicing social distancing and donating blood. These two activities—which are not mutually exclusive—will go a long way in keeping community members healthy by slowing the spread of the virus and by ensuring hospital patients across the country continue to have access to lifesaving blood.
The fact is that one out of seven people entering the hospital requires blood, and the Red Cross supplies about 40% of the nation’s blood and blood products for patients with serious medical conditions. To do this, we host hundreds of blood drives every day. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, there have been an alarming number of blood drive cancellations. This could lead to extreme shortages in our nation's blood supply.
In South Carolina and as of March 18th, about 67 Red Cross blood drives have been cancelled due to coronavirus concerns. This means over 1,900 blood donations that could have helped people with urgent medical needs have already gone uncollected. Across the U.S., around 100,000 units of blood have gone uncollected in less than a week.
While continuing to work with government and community partners to keep scheduled drives on the calendar, your Red Cross of South Carolina is currently looking for service-minded organizations to step-up and host a blood drive - while encouraging those eligible and feeling well to schedule a donation appointment by entering their zip code at RedCrossblood.org. Right now, and with good reason, many have concerns about all aspects of public health. It is important to note that donating blood is a safe process and people should not hesitate to give. Blood drives have highest standards of safety and infection control—and do not fall in the category of “mass gatherings." Plus, the Red Cross has taken many steps, out of an abundance of caution, to ensure donor safety. This includes checking temperatures at the door at all blood drives, spacing donation stations at least 6-feet apart and wiping down donor and staff-touched equipment, regularly.
Those unable to donate blood at this time, may help the Red Cross continue to deliver lifesaving services by making a financial donation at RedCross.org.