As elective surgeries start back up after a temporary shutdown ordered by the state earlier this spring, donors are needed to help replenish blood supplies.

The American Red Cross has put extra safety measures in place to fight the spread of the novel coronavirus disease, COVID-19.

Josh Murray, regional communications director for the Nebraska-Iowa Region of the American Red Cross, said blood drives and donation centers follow the highest standards of safety and infection control. Organizers have added more precautions to prevent the spread of germs during the outbreak.

“We’re taking it up another level to make sure we’re extra safe at this time,” he said.

Precautions include checking the temperature of staff and donors before entering a drive, providing hand sanitizer, and increasing routines to disinfect surfaces and equipment.

Staff and donors will be wearing face masks, staff will change gloves often, and participants will be asked to follow social distancing practices between donors, including donor beds, waiting areas and refreshment tables.

The Red Cross asks donors to make appointments to help manage the flow of donors and ensure social distancing practices are followed. These mitigation measures will help ensure staff and donor safety in reducing contact with those who may potentially have coronavirus, or any respiratory infection.

Murray said that many blood drives have been canceled over the last several weeks as regular venues such as churches and schools closed due to the coronavirus outbreak. Demand for blood also decreased as elective surgeries were put on hold; but as those procedures are rescheduled, the need for blood has returned.

“We’ve just seen the supply really dwindle over the last week or two weeks,” he said. “We’re just trying to make sure we maintain a steady supply.”

To help with that, members of the police and fire departments in the Tri-cities are hosting Battle of the Badges blood drives next week. Departments will engage in a friendly competition to see who can recruit the most blood donors.

A total of 350 units of blood were collected in the two previous years of the drive, according to a news release from the Red Cross. Donors will receive a commemorative “Battle of the Badges” T-shirt. Additionally, everyone who comes to donate at a Red Cross blood drive during the month of June will receive a $5 Amazon gift card.

In Hastings, the blood drive will be held Monday from noon to 6 p.m. at the Hastings City Auditorium, 400 N. Hastings Ave. Appointments are encouraged to help maintain social distancing.

For an appointment, visit redcrossblood.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767), or email Hastings Fire Capt. Darin Clark at dclark@hastingsfire.org or Hastings Police Capt. Mike Doremus at MDoremus@hastingspolice.org to sign up for a team.

All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. A blood donor card, driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age in most states (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood.

High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.

Blood and platelet donors can save time at their next donation by using RapidPass to complete their pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of their donation, before arriving at the blood drive. To get started, follow the instructions at RedCrossBlood.org/RapidPass or use the Blood Donor App.

The Red Cross supplies about 40% of the blood in the United States. Across the nation, there is about a two-day supply of the most common, Type O. The stockpile of the other types would only last about three days.

Murray said donations generally dip in the summer months, so the blood drives with police and fire departments are important to maintain supplies. As the nation struggles with the coronavirus pandemic, he said donating blood can help people in need.

“This is one way to be a positive influence,” he said. “Come out and give to help out your community.”

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