Blood drive looks different during the pandemic

William Gavin, Staff Writer

As part of its renewed efforts during the pandemic, the American Red Cross will be running a blood drive at Quinnipiac University’s North Haven Campus on Sept. 22. 

The American Red Cross is known for taking part in national health efforts, such as helping hospitals get the adequate supplies. The Red Cross has been running nationwide civilian blood programs since the 1940s and continues these efforts through blood drives across the country.                                  

The pandemic caused disruptions in the organization’s supply chains, and the supply of blood all over the United States.

“The Red Cross is a national blood system — we collect about 40% of the nation’s blood,” said Stefanie Arcanagelo, the chief communications officer for the Red Cross in Connecticut. “Local needs here in Connecticut are met first, but as a national blood system, we have the ability to get that blood where they need it, anywhere across the country.”

However, since the pandemic began, there have been growing concerns about how blood drives can be held while still following safety precautions. Many blood drives were forced to be postponed after state governments mandated a series of new COVID-19 regulations.

To combat fears of COVID-19 keeping students away from donating blood, the Red Cross has put in a number of precautions. Before any staff or donors can enter the center, they must pass a temperature check, and everything must be sterilized “beyond what is normally required,” according to Arcangelo.

“The Red Cross has implemented additional safety precautions at all of our blood drives,” Arcangelo said. “And that includes that we are only taking appointments. So, at this time we are not taking walk-ins to encourage a physical distancing. In addition, the beds are more spaced out, so they have that physical distance as well.”

Quinnipiac has also taken precautions against the virus by enforcing mandatory COVID-19 tests for students when they returned to campus for the fall 2020 semester, along with random testing every week. However, the university announced in an email last week that one commuter student has tested positive for the virus.

Between the extra precautions taken by the Red Cross and what Quinnipiac has named, “the Bobcat Bubble,” students may be more open to donating during these blood drives, despite the one known case.

“I don’t really have any concerns,” said Samantha Hartmann, a sophomore 3+1 advertising major. “I have given blood at Quinnipiac before, and it is very safe — even with (COVID-19).”

As the pandemic continues to ravage the country, leading to  over 200,000 deaths as of Sept. 22, Arcangelo believes that there is no better time to donate blood.

“Donating blood is one of the quickest simplest things that you can do that can help save lives. In about an hour of your time, you can help save more than one life,” Arcangelo said. “You may already know someone who needed blood, and if you don’t, either you or someone you know, may need blood in the future. So taking an hour of your time, really does help save lives.”