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Blood donations in high demand as drives cancel throughout the country

  • Red Cross volunteer Maureen Wheeler takes Joe Majewski of Rindge’s temperature prior to him donating blood at a drive at the Peterborough Community Center on Wednesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • Red Cross volunteer Maureen Wheeler takes Joe Majewski of Rindge's temperature prior to him donating blood at a drive at the Peterborough Community Center on Wednesday, March 18, 2020. Staff photo by Ben Conant

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 3/18/2020 6:55:00 PM

The American Red Cross continues to encourage potential healthy volunteer blood donors to contribute to the region's upcoming blood drives amid the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 4,000 blood drives have been canceled due to coronavirus concerns, External Communications Manager Mary Brant said. This translates to 100,000 fewer blood donations.

“The Red Cross is really, really struggling,” Peterborough Fire Chief/Emergency Management Director Edmund Walker said Monday night. “A lot of the places that they typically use for their bloodmobiles are now closed to the public.”

Red Cross workers are following stringent guidelines, including taking people’s temperatures before they are being allowed in the building and because the Community Center is so large workers and blood donors will be spread out inside the building.

A blood drive Wednesday at the Peterborough Community Center was filled to capacity, with 42 donors scheduled; volunteers had to turn away walk-ins because so many people made appointments in advance to donate blood. More drives are scheduled in New Ipswich and Jaffrey through the end of March.

“There is no evidence and there are no reported cases of the coronavirus, or for that matter any respiratory illness, transmitted by a blood transfusion,” Brant said. Red cross employees already follow thorough safety protocols to prevent any kind of infection at every blood drive and donation center, she said, including changing gloves between touching individual donors, routinely wiping down areas touched by donors, and using antiseptic scrubs on donors’ arms.

To reassure donors during the epidemic, the Red Cross is now additionally taking the temperature of staff members and donors before entering a drive, Brant said. “Hand sanitizer is everywhere” at blood drives, she said, and the Red Cross is working to space out beds wherever possible in order to follow social distancing procedure. They are working to comply with changing FDA and CDC guidelines as they roll out, she said.

“There is no replacement for a volunteer healthy blood donor,” she said. “We need your help right now to avoid a blood shortage.” Brant encourages potential donors to check www.redcrossblood.org before going out to a blood drive to confirm that it’s still scheduled, and to schedule appointments in advance prior to arriving.

As of Wednesday, a drive is scheduled for Monday, March 23 at the New Ipswich Congregational Church from noon to 5 p.m., and Monday, March 30 at Conant High School in Jaffrey from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Brant said the Red Cross encourages any owners of a facility suitable for hosting a blood drive to call 1-800-RED CROSS for more information.


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