American Red Cross facing severe blood shortage, urging people to donate at emergency mobile blood drives

During the emergency blood drives, the Red Cross is making sure everyone feels safe by taking temperatures before entering and practicing social distancing.

JOPLIN, Mo.- Joplin Resident, Kaitlin Jessip hasn’t donated blood in years…but hearing of the impact the coronavirus has had on the American Red Cross led her to do so again.

“It’s heartbreaking honestly, knowing that just so many people are affected by this in so many different ways, it’s sad.”

The American Red Cross has canceled more than 7,000 blood drives, resulting in a loss of more than 200,000 units of blood.

“Not that it’s not a safe thing to do right now to donate blood, but a good percentage of our blood comes from schools, which right now schools are really taking a hit and closing their doors for a while. So with most schools closing their doors, that automatically takes the blood drives out of the question” said Biomedical Account Manager for the American Red Cross, Tyler Tharp.

In an effort to collect as much blood as possible, they are holding last-minute emergency blood drives. Tharp says it is safe to donate blood, and there is no evidence that the coronavirus can be transmitted by blood transfusions.

They do ask that you wait 28 days after travel before donating, and if you have been diagnosed or been in contact with someone suspected or tested positive for coronavirus to not donate at this time.

“What has helped us is FEMA, Health and Human Services, the CDC and FDA are currently backing us and supporting the fact that blood is considered a very essential thing right now” added Tharp.

While people are being urged to stay home, the Red Cross is urging young, healthy individuals to donate.
And social distancing didn’t scare Kaitlin away from donating.

“I’ve been taking the precautions that I can in my daily life, so I wasn’t nervous at all
coming up here.”

During the emergency blood drives, the Red Cross is making sure everyone feels safe by taking temperatures before entering and practicing social distancing.

“If your temperature is over 99.5 degrees we will not let you in that room, and that is just a way for us to screen people coming in and if you have a temperature we want you to stay away so we can keep everything safe for everyone at the blood drive. Another thing we’re doing is trying to space everything out if we can, trying to space beds apart, trying to practice social distancing within the drives as well” added Tharp.

They are accepting walk-ins, but are asking people to make appointments to donate beforehand so they can make sure they have enough materials and equipment to operate the drives. You can find the link to make an appointment at your local mobile blood drive here.

Tharp urged that they don’t need people to just donate today, but for the coming weeks, and months as the end of the coronavirus is still unknown.

“If we were to quit collecting blood or let this shortage get any worse, we’re going to have a whole new emergency on our hands and we do not want to let it get to that point.”

The American Red Cross held an emergency blood drive at the Fellowship Baptist Church in Joplin from 10 A.M. until 3 P.M. on March 24th. They will hold another drive on March 25th, at the same location from 10 A.M. to 3 P.M.

You can find more information on the American Red Cross and their coronavirus safety protocols here.