GOSHEN — Blood banks are suffering as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.
In an attempt to avoid large gatherings, churches, businesses, schools and other locations are canceling their scheduled blood drives. Nearly 130 had been cancelled in Indiana as of Tuesday, and 2,700 nationwide. The result is 86,000 fewer blood donations to the American Red Cross.
The Pleasant View Church in Goshen decided it would still hold its blood drive Wednesday despite state restrictions.
“The need’s not going to go away,” said supervisor Kim Sarrazin. “People are still having heart attacks and car accidents and they’ll need it so we need to make sure we have a supply there.”
The restrictions didn’t seem to have affected scheduled blood donations at the Pleasant View Church blood drive. Sarrazin said the majority of the appointment slots were still scheduled early during the drive.
Still, the shortage likely won’t slow unless more donors attend blood drives or come to the donation centers.
“Right now is our prime time to visit high schools and colleges, but with all of them closed we can’t do that,” Sarrazine said.
Marla Miller, account manager for American Red Cross, said the Red Cross is taking extra precautions during each of its blood drives to help prevent the spread of coronavirus while still gathering the blood donations they desperately need.
All staff members’ temperatures are taken at the start of the drive, and each donor’s temperature is also taken. Anyone with a temperature above 99.5 degrees will not be admitted. Each person who enters a blood drive will apply hand sanitizer before entering the drive, and beds are spaced in accordance with the 6 feet of social distancing recommended by the Centers for Disease Control. Staff wear gloves throughout the enter donation process, switching after each person. In addition to standard sterilization protocol always implemented by Red Cross Blood Drive employees, staff are also cleaning and sanitizing everything including seating following each donation.
“What we’re trying to do is let people know it’s still safe to donate blood,” Miller said. “Respiratory viruses are not transmissible by blood transfusions. We just ask that healthy people who are willing to come and donate do so because we’re in a shortage now.”
As of press time, blood drives are still scheduled for several other area locations.
Goshen College Mennonite Church is still planning to host their Thursday, March 19 blood drive from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m, although with the college’s facilities shut down, the drive will take place on a donation bus in the south parking lot.
Grace Community Church in Goshen will host a blood drive from noon to 5 p.m. April 3.
Harley-Davidson in Elkhart will host a blood drive from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 4.
Clinton Frame Church in Goshen will host a blood drive from noon to 6 p.m. April 9.
First Mennonite Church in Middlebury will host a blood drive from noon to 6 p.m. April 20.
“The need for blood is constant,” Miller said. “Every 2 seconds someone in the United States needs blood and we need to make sure we can get that blood supply to them. There could be elective surgeries that have to be postponed but there are some things that can’t be postponed. Volunteer donors are the only source of blood for those in need. This need doesn’t go away. Blood is always needed.”