Red Cross holding blood drives as COVID-19 surge further threatens supply

Posted at 5:56 AM, Nov 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-18 06:09:34-05

HAMPTON, Va. - Donate blood and save a life.

It's a simple concept made complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Michelle Ellis Young, the executive director for American Red Cross of Coastal Virginia, tells News 3 that with pandemic numbers rising once again, an already depleted blood supply will likely take another hit.

"[People] just become very selective about the places that they go to and one of those is how they present for blood donations," she said. "We already had a downturn when COVID hit."

Still, Red Cross and its community partners are holding drives to try and get as many blood donations as possible, including one on Wednesday at Hampton Coliseum.

Donors have to register in advance for different drives, which can be found here.

Ellis Young says staff members follow COVID-19 guidelines including taking temperatures of blood donors, requiring masks and enforcing social distancing. She's hoping people will be willing to work with those rules to donate blood and help save lives.

"We are always in, in this COVID environment, a great need for blood," said Ellis Young. "I have to say that we're in a great need of diverse blood to ensure that we can properly supply our area hospitals for sickle-cell patients, which our area provides almost 46 percent of that blood to area Virginia hospitals."

Ellis Young tells News 3 the Red Cross is particularly in need of Black and Hispanic donors.

One benefit for all blood donors is the opportunity to get their blood tested for COVID-19 antibodies.

Samples will be tested for antibodies until at least March, Ellis Young says.