With blood donations down, local drives offer chance to help

Published 6:11 pm Monday, April 13, 2020

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As of this week, more than 19,000 American Red Cross blood drives have been canceled nationwide, leading to a shortfall more than half a million potentially life-saving blood donations amidst a national healthcare crisis.

“The good news is we’re not at the critical shortage where we were a couple of weeks ago,” said American Red Cross Communications Officer Cally Edwards. “We’ve had donors really step up and come to drives and meet the current need for blood. However, every single day, there’s a constant need for blood, so we are trying to encourage healthy individuals to keep the appointments they’ve scheduled and make appointments in the coming weeks.”

Beaufort County residents will have their chance to help make up that deficit this month, as the American Red Cross hosts a number of drives locally. There’s one coming up Wednesday at The Blind Center of North Carolina, followed by more at First Church of Christ, the Department of Environmental Quality, Clarks Neck Fire Department and Harvest Church.

Those drives might look a little different, however, from what donors have experienced in the past. According to Edwards, the Red Cross is taking additional precautions above and beyond its already high standards of safety and cleanliness.

“First, we are only taking appointments. We’re not having walk-ins at this time,” Edwards said. “By having an appointment, we’re able to make sure we have appropriate social distancing and can maintain the safety protocols that we have.”

Those conducting the blood drives are also taking temperatures of both staff and donors before they enter the donation location, providing hand sanitizer to use throughout the process and routinely disinfecting surfaces between donors.

“Beginning April 15, donors will be required to wear face coverings at our blood drives and donation centers,” Edwards said. “We encourage them to bring their own face coverings, but if they don’t have one, we’ll provide them with one.”

Since the COVID-19 crisis began, this is the third blood drive held at The Blind Center, which has always allowed the Washington Kiwanis Club to host Red Cross blood drives at the location.

“We want to support the Red Cross, because they are desperate for blood,” said Blind Center Director Christie Moler. “We’ve quarantined that back room, so none of our people are going in and out of there and the center was already closed to our clients when we agreed to do the first one.”

Those wishing to schedule an appointment to give blood can do so by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). One must have an appointment to give blood. Appointments are available in the coming month at the following times and locations:

  • April 15 — The Blind Center, 219 N. Harvey St., Washington, noon to 4 p.m.
  • April 30 — First Church of Christ, 520 E. 10th St., Washington, 2:30 to 7 p.m.
  • May 11 — N.C. Department of Environmental Quality, 943 Washington Square Mall, Washington, 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • May 15 — Clarks Neck Fire and Rescue Department, 3797 Wharton Station Road, Washington, 2 to 7 p.m.
  • May 20 — Harvest Church, 2020 W. 15th St., Washington, 2 to 7 p.m.