The COVID-19 pandemic has made gatherings and social events outside the home difficult, if not impossible. Social distancing measures are critical to slowing the spread of the novel coronavirus, but they have led to a near-total freeze on public events. Among the early casualties of the pandemic were more than 4,500 blood drives, many organized by colleges and companies that have since gone remote, and, with them, countless potential blood donations. As blood drives typically account for nearly half of blood donations across the United States, these cancellations have contributed to a potentially life-threatening national blood supply shortage.
Although the large sponsored blood drives of the pre-pandemic era likely won’t be returning any time soon, some local centers are continuing to host smaller, socially distanced drives across the country, some of which are also providing all donors with antibody and COVID-19 testing. Check-in with your local centers to see if they’re running drives and if you can set up an appointment to donate--social distancing means donations need to be limited and spaced out, so slots may fill up quickly.
If no drives are available in your area, you can and should still donate blood. Following intense safety precautions, many local and national centers are continuing to accept individual donations of both blood and convalescent plasma, which is crucial to developing a potential treatment for COVID-19. Though plasma donations from symptom-free recovered COVID survivors are the main source of antibodies, OneBlood has begun FDA-approved antibody testing for all incoming blood donations.
The UBI’s COVID Code Red campaign aims to help support local blood centers and the healthcare system through this unprecedented time. In addition to donating, you can join us as a Code Red Responder and help your community. Contact your local blood center to set up an appointment to donate--as a Responder, by mobilizing volunteers, you may even be able to help organize a blood drive.
Thank you, too, for donating blood and helping to combat this crisis. If you do decide to donate or get involved, help spread the word! Take a selfie or a quick photo of the site and post with the hashtags #DonateRed #CovidCodeRed #NowMoreThanEver.