American Red Cross encourages blood donation, continues work during COVID-19

Published: Apr. 29, 2020 at 4:50 PM EDT
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While it sometimes seems like life has come to a standstill during the coronavirus pandemic, emergencies still happen, and the American Red Cross is finding new ways to continue to help while also practicing social distancing.

Many of their consultations are done via video with programs like Zoom.

"Our volunteers, not only are they trained using technology in a lot of ways but also we make an effort to make sure that we have the latest technology to connect with clients," said Jason Keeling, the director of the Allegheny Highlands chapter.

These virtual consultations cover a wide variety of situations, whether it's helping a family find housing after a fire or connecting someone with a mental health specialist.

"Housing in the immediate aftermath, we can make sure they have food clothing, any special medications they might need," Keeling said "We can provide them with any type of psychological or first aid services,"

But one vital service you can't conduct virtually? Blood drives. And the Red Cross saw a significant drop in donations in the early weeks of the pandemic.

"In the initial weeks after the national emergency was declared, we had a significant drop in blood donations," Keeling said

Luckily, they've been able to bring those donation numbers back up and are practicing social distancing during their drives.

"We're implementing social distancing at our drives, we're having staff and donors wear masks, we're doing temperature checks before they come in," Keeling said

They encouraging donors to use their app to schedule their appointment ahead of time so that they can limit waiting time.

So while much of the world has slowed down, the Red Cross is working more than ever to keep people connected to life-saving services.

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