COVID-19 hit the Red Cross of Southwestern Indiana pretty hard over the past few months in terms of the number of donors coming in to make a donation. Coming off the holiday season, when they typically see a dip in donations because everyone is busy, the pandemic was a huge punch in the gut thanks primarily to the state's stay-at-home order. The lack of consistent donations, they now find themselves with an urgent need for blood. But maybe you're still a bit uneasy with the idea of donating while COVID-19 continues to be a thing. The Red Cross certainly understands that, and have protocols in place to make the experience as safe as possible.

I'll admit, it's been some time since I made a donation, and based on the number of e-mails and phone calls I get, the Red Cross would REALLY like to see me because I have Type O Negative blood, also known as "universal blood" because anyone can use it. The reason I haven't made a donation isn't necessarily over any concern that I'll personally get sick from the coronavirus, but that I might unknowingly pick up and spread it to my family or coworkers at the station. But I do want to make a donation, so I reach out to Theo Boots, the Executive Director of Southwest Indiana American Red Cross to ask what safety measures they have in place to help prevent the potential spread of the virus. Here's what she said:

  • Checking temperatures of staff and donors before entering a drive to make sure they are healthy
  • Providing hand sanitizer for use before entering the drives, as well as throughout the donation process
  • Following social distancing between donors including entry, donation, and refreshment areas
  • Ensuring face masks or coverings are worn by both staff and donors
  • Routinely disinfecting surfaces, equipment and donor-touched areas
  • Wearing gloves, and changing gloves often
  • Using sterile collection sets and an aseptic scrub for every donation

Hopefully that's enough to calm any concerns you may have. It does for me. If it does, the Red Cross has a few blood drives coming up where you'll have an opportunity to make a donation including one on the West Side June 24th, and one in Mt. Vernon at Mt. Vernon Junior High School being held in honor of Mason Mileham, a young Posey County boy who was diagnosed with Stage 4 Neuroblastoma November 2019 and has received multiple blood and platelet transfusions during his treatment. They will also host a few drives over the next several weeks at their offices on the corner of Stockwell Road and the Lloyd Expressway.

One thing worth noting — the Red Cross is now testing all blood, platelet, and plasma donations for COVID-19 antibodies as part of the screening each pint receives after you donate.

To find a drive near you, and to book an appointment, which the Red Cross prefers you do opposed to simply walking in, visit redcrossblood.org.

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