Californian blood banks are scrambling for donors as the COVID-19 pandemic forces millions of people to stay at home. This puts a squeeze to the United States’ blood supply.
While donated blood is not used to treat patients with coronavirus, the strong demand for blood remains for many routine surgeries, trauma procedures and cancer treatments. It’s a huge essential for cancer patients. This is why many health care officials worry that their reserves may not be enough.
The American Red Cross canceled over 100 blood drives in recent weeks in Northern California alone. This results in 3,300 fewer donations. Stanford Blood Center, on the other hand, halted many more, leading to hundreds of fewer blood donations. Most of the country’s supply comes from these blood drives.
According to Stanford Blood Center’s chief medical officer Dr. Suchi Pandey, shelter-in-place orders and social distancing recommendations led to most of the schools and businesses that we do drives at each week closing. They can’t go out and drive to these sites.
Many blood banks, including Stanford Blood Center, are encouraging more people to make up for these shortages, even providing a $10 gift card from Amazon as an incentive.
State and local shelter-in-place rules allow people to leave their houses for a while to donate blood. According to health care professionals, doing so is completely safe.
Those blood drives that haven’t been suspended are taking additional precautions. They are screening donors and staff members for fevers, performing more cleanings at the drive sites, and maintaining safe distances between the donors. They are also spreading out appointments.
Those people who have been in close contact with a person with coronavirus, or traveled to hard-hit nations are asked to wait exactly 28 days before donating. All donors are not tested for COVID-19.
While it’s not yet known whether COVID-19 can be transmitted by blood, health experts say it’s highly unlikely. Pandey said that what we know as of the moment is that in general, respiratory viruses are not known to be transmittable through blood.
The attendance at a blood donation drive held by the Red Cross on San Francisco’s Market Street on Thursday suggests that more people are starting to understand the need to respond.
Red Cross’ regional spokeswoman Cynthia Shaw said that the turnout was huge. However, the need for blood is constant. There are a lot of individuals out there having life-sustaining surgeries.
All over the country, the Red Cross has canceled almost 3,000 blood donation drives since the COVID-19 outbreak. This resulted in around 100,000 lost donations. The Red Cross provides about 40% of the nation’s blood.