Health Officials are becoming concerned that continued “social distancing” is leading to a shortage of blood donations.
The Central Illinois Community Blood Center is encouraging blood donations now and in the next 8 weeks to ensure adequate supplies during the Coronavirus Pandemic to prevent shortages locally.
Manager of Donor Recruitment for the center Tara Matheson says that with social distancing and the closure of public gatherings, blood drives are another event being put on hold.
“We are seeing a lot of out blood drives being canceled. This time of year we have a lot of high school blood drives, and of course there is no school in session right now, so those students aren’t available for blood donation. Our healthcare facilities, our hospitals that normally host drives are not able to host those either because of the risk of bringing the virus into the facility.”
The American Red Cross, which supplies about 40% of the nation’s blood, says donor drives across the country have been canceled “at an alarming rate” and the organization now is now facing a “severe blood shortage” according to a report by NPR.
Blood Center Officials are asking for blood drive sponsor groups that are considering canceling drives, to please work with the center on potential options to re-direct donors.
Matheson says that donating at the blood center is still an option.
“We are really looking for donors to come to our six sites when at all possible. We do have communities also that are identifying locations that are not close to our donor centers. I know for you in the Jacksonville area, the closest donor center would be in Springfield, but we are hosting drives there so definitely keep an eye out for drives that pop up.
We are working with community organizations that will allow us to come in and collect from community members who are healthy, and have not had any contact with anyone who has been tested or exposed to COVID-19.”
As of Tuesday, the Red Cross says about 2,700 blood drives had been canceled because of concerns about public gatherings. The organization estimates that has resulted in 86,000 fewer blood donations because 80% of the blood it collects comes from drives held at these locations.
Matheson says that The Central Illinois Community Blood Center staff are taking every precaution to keep the centers open and safe for blood donation.
“We are at our donor centers and our blood drives operating under the recommendations of the six feet of separation between those who are wanting to give blood. We of course are wiping everything down which is what we normally do, but we are keeping our collection operations very safe for donors to come and give and help with the blood supply.”
According to the CICBC website, there is no known risk to the safety of the nation’s blood supply except for lack of donations and there are no reports of spread of this respiratory virus, by blood transfusion.
To find out more information call the blood center at (866) 448-3253 or (217) 753-1530, or online at www.bloodcenter.org