ST. ALBANS -- According to the Red Cross, the country is facing a severe shortage of blood. Many of the colleges, schools and businesses which have closed were also blood drive sponsors.
In the Northern New England Region, 53 blood drives have been canceled, resulting in 1,633 fewer blood donations, the Red Cross said in a statement released last week.
In St. Albans and Fairfax, municipal governments are stepping in to sponsor blood drives.
In a Facebook post announcing the drive in Fairfax, the town said, "Community safety is our top priority, and based on the severe blood shortage being faced by hospitals amid the current health crisis, we see this as a critical need."
“We know that people want to help, but they may be hesitant to visit a blood drive during this time. We want to assure the public that blood donation is a safe process, and we have put additional precautions in place at our blood drives and donation centers to protect all who come out,” said Chris Hrouda, the president of the Red Cross's Biomedical Services, in a written statement.
The Red Cross has implemented new measures to ensure blood drives and donation centers are even safer for donors and staff, including:
• Checking the temperature of staff and donors before entering a drive.
• Providing hand sanitizer for use before the drive, as well as throughout the donation process.
• Spacing beds, where possible, to follow social distancing practices between blood donors.
• Increasing enhanced disinfecting of surfaces and equipment.
At each blood drive and donation center, Red Cross employees already follow thorough safety protocols to help prevent the spread of any type of infection, including:
• Wearing gloves and changing gloves with each donor.
• Routinely wiping down donor-touched areas.
• Using sterile collection sets for every donation.
• Preparing the arm for donation with an aseptic scrub.
There is no data or evidence that this coronavirus can be transmitted by blood transfusion, and there have been no reported cases of transfusion transmission for any respiratory virus including this coronavirus worldwide.
“Volunteer donors are the unsung heroes for patients in need of lifesaving blood transfusions. If you are healthy, feeling well and eligible to give, please schedule an appointment to give now,” added Hrouda.
People are encouraged to schedule a donation time so to make it easier to maintain as much social distancing as possible. To schedule a donation time, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit RedCrossBlood.org.
Below are the upcoming drives locally:
Wed. March 25
Swanton VFW, 8 Merchants Row, 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Thurs. March 26
St. Albans City Hall, 100 North Main Street, 12 p.m. - 5 p.m.
Saturday, March 28
Fairfax Town Clerk, 12 Buck Hollow Road, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Thurs. April 2
St. Albans City Hall, 100 North Main Street, 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.