As efforts to curtail the spread of COVID-19 continue to remain in the forefront across our communities, we cannot lose sight of the fact that the Red Cross MUST continue to provide our mission critical services.
The residents of South Carolina depend on us.
We now face extraordinary challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic; challenges ranging from blood shortages due to cancelled drives to adjusting our service models to ensure the health and welfare of our donors, clients, volunteers and staff. The increase in our capacity to meet the blood and disaster needs of people across our communities requires a substantial investment.
As you are aware, we are facing a severe blood shortage due to an unprecedented number of blood drive cancellations during this coronavirus outbreak. As of today, about 7,000 Red Cross blood drives have been canceled across the country due to coronavirus concerns, resulting in about 200,000 fewer blood donations.
The greatest concern facing the American Red Cross in the light of COVID-19 is the increased expense that is required for us to continue our lifesaving mission of providing over 40% of our nation's blood supply. In fact, we estimate over $150 million in increased costs over the next 6 months just to operate normally.
Meanwhile, it is important to remember that Red Cross disaster workers respond to disasters in communities across the country every eight minutes, bringing devastated survivors relief after home fires, tornadoes, floods and other crises. Just this month, Red Cross of South Carolina disaster workers responded to dozens of home fires and helped more than 380 people across the state.
Donations designated to the coronavirus outbreak will be used to ensure that the Red Cross can maintain a sufficient supply of blood to help patients in need and prevent any shortages. This may include adding more staff and resources to ensure we have enough people to collect vital blood products for hospital patients in need. In addition, donations will ensure that due to this coronavirus outbreak, the Red Cross is able to provide critical relief services to people affected by disasters big and small. This includes equipping and training volunteers and staff during this outbreak to safely provide food, shelter, comfort and relief supplies to people affected by disasters of all types.
Donations may also be used to invest in technology and training to make sure we can provide counseling, financial assistance and other relief services virtually.
To donate to help the American Red Cross continue to deliver its lifesaving mission nationwide due to this public health emergency, visit redcross.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or text the word CORONAVIRUS to 90999. These funds will help us make the urgent investments needed to ensure people can continue to turn to the Red Cross for help and hope—when it’s needed most.