Here’s where you can donate blood during the coronavirus outbreak — and how the Red Cross will protect you
Typically the biggest issue facing workers at Red Cross blood drives are donors with a fear of needles or those who might get squeamish at the sight of their blood. However, during the COVID-19 pandemic there are new concerns to deal with.
The Red Cross has taken extra precautions to protect not only its staff members but also those who come in for blood donations, said Kelly Isenor, External Communications Manager for the Red Cross.
At blood drive locations:
- Employees must wear face masks.
- Employees are asked to take their temperature at home and stay home if it exceeds 99.5 degrees.
- Beds and chairs in waiting and canteen areas must be at least six feet apart.
- Sanitizing wipes and hand sanitizer prominently placed and potential donors are encouraged to use them often.
- Balls used to squeeze during donation are covered in latex gloves. Television remote controls (used during platelet donations) are wiped down, as are areas where donors have made contact.
Looking to donate?
- Potential donors can’t have a temperature higher than 99.5 degrees to donate. If they do, they aren’t eligible to donate for another 28 days. Staff take temperatures upon arrival and again before donation.
- Platelet donors who wish to have a blanket to stay warm during the process are encouraged to bring their own because blankets on site need to be washed after each use and the supply can be low.
“They are doing all the right things,” said Manchester’s Vic Vincze, who donated platelets at the Red Cross office in Farmington on Monday. “You could even tell that the (television) remotes were wiped down, they all have masks on and even the rubber ball that they use (for donors to squeeze), they covered that in a latex glove as well so they were all being very careful.”
Keeping up with the demand?
The types of places able to host blood drives have been impacted. Churches, hotels and hospitals continue to host drives but cramped places including bloodmobiles can’t be used under the current social-distancing policy. Even with some blood drives being canceled, Isenor said whole blood donations are keeping up with the demand from local hospitals.
April 1, 7:45 a.m.-1 p.m.: Zandri's Stillwood Inn, 1074 South Colony Road, Wallingford
April 1, 9 a.m.-2 p.m.: Connecticut Police Academy, 285 Preston Ave., Meriden
April 2, 8:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.: Griffin Medical, 300 Oxford Road, Oxford
April 3, 8 a.m. - 7:15 p.m.: Linda's Sleep Shoppe, 105 Waterbury Road No. 9, Prospect
April 3, 12:15 - 6 p.m.: Whitney Cultural Commons 1253 Whitney Ave., Hamden
April 3, 12:45 - 6:15 p.m.: Branford Community House 46 Church Street, Branford
April 5 9 a.m. - 2 p.m.: Best Western, 201 Washington St., North Haven
“We are seeing people really answer the call,” Isenor said. “In Connecticut, it is a very positive thing that people realize that there is a need and there will continue to be a need and they are doing what they can.”
Keeping up with platelet donations, used in cancer treatment, has been an issue. There is a shorter shelf life for platelet donations and unlike whole blood donations, the time-consuming platelet donations can only be drawn at the Farmington and the Norwich Red Cross facilities.
“We do encourage anybody who has an appointment to keep it and make new donation appointments for weeks away so we can continue to see a stable, healthy supply throughout the pandemic,” Isenor said. “We all know that nobody is giving an estimate of how long the social distancing measures are going to be needed so in that sense I know that even last week we were talking about a critical need. Thankfully the Red Cross has been able to meet immediate patient (whole blood) needs but this is going to be a long-term process.”
Potential donors should make an appointment at www.redcrossblood.org or by calling 1-800-733-2767.