The community blood supply is at risk of collapse as drives are cancelled and donations decline because of concerns about coronavirus, according to officials from the South Texas Blood & Tissue Center, a subsidiary of BioBridge Global.
“We are seeing a perfect storm developing as our community works to prevent the spread of the virus with school closings, more employees working from home and other measures,” said Elizabeth Waltman, chief operating officer of STBTC. “An unintended consequence is that, both locally and nationally, blood drives are being cancelled and fewer people are donating.
“Without community action, projections show the blood supply will be depleted in less than two days, which means we could expect that blood would be rationed,” she said.
Donors are asked to schedule appointments at one of seven STBTC donor rooms by calling (210) 731-5590 or visiting SouthTexasBlood. org. Making an appointment reduces waits and avoids crowding in donor rooms, which are set up so only a few people at a time are in common areas.
In addition, blood drive sponsors are urged not to cancel drives. Typically, no more than a handful of donors and STBTC staff are gathered at one time during drives.
STBTC is taking additional steps to protect donors. It is checking the temperature of everyone, including staff members, who enters a donor room using an infrared, touchless thermometer. A fever is one of the key symptoms of the COVID-19 infections.
Donation beds and equipment are sanitized between donors, and hand sanitizer is available. Hard surfaces like door handles and light switches are being sanitized on a frequent basis. Staff members have been told to stay home if they are sick, or if they meet CDC criteria for travel or other exposure to the virus.
All potential donors are asked about recent travel and receive a mini-physical during the screening process before donating. Anyone with potential exposure to the virus with the past 28 days is asked to defer their donation.