Coronavirus fears and blood drive cancellations lead to severe shortages

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - The coronavirus is also affecting other aspects of the health field. According to the Red Cross, there are severe blood shortages because hundreds of blood drive sites are being canceled around the country.

Nationally, due to blood drive cancellations, thousands of units of blood are going uncollected and that is a problem here at home too.

The main thing the Red Cross wants you to know is it’s still safe to donate.

“We’re seeing two issues affecting blood donations. One is mobile sites. Most of our blood collection is done through mobile sites, done through a school or church. Nationwide we’ve seen over 4,000 sites have to cancel their blood drives because the site wasn’t available. That’s about 100,000 units of blood nationally,” Craig Weyers, a Red Cross Board Member, and blood donor said. “The other one is people’s fear of going out.”

He said the shortage right now is “severe” but if it gets worse surgeries could have to be canceled.

Locally, because of all the closures of schools and churches, the Red Cross is now left scrambling to find new blood drive sites.

They want residents to know it is okay to leave your house to donate blood, in fact, it’s necessary.

When it comes to the donation sites, Weyers tells ABC57 that besides sanitizing, they have other precautions in place to keep donors safe.

“There are additional precautions being put in place at the sites. For example, everyone’s temperature is being taken before they even come in. People are wearing gloves more than they always did,” he said. “They’ve moved the beds apart in places that they could do that. So, we have more social distancing.”

There are also permanent donation centers in Goshen and Elkhart.

The South Bend Medical Association donation sites in South Bend.

Click here to find out where the next mobile blood drive will be.

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