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Blood drive protocols during the COVID-19 crisis

Vitalant blood services in Reno, which conducts Quincy community blood drives four times a year, is advising local blood drive coordinators that drives will continue during the Coronavirus crisis. The next local drive is scheduled June 9.

Although many state and local governments have barred people from leaving their homes except for essential functions, FEMA has specifically identified blood donation as an “essential and integral component of the emergency support function.”

Government entities have recommended that people shelter in place, practice social distancing and avoid gatherings. Blood drives, however, are not “gatherings,” they are blood donation operations that are key to public health and safety.

In a letter to all emergency management agencies, FEMA Administrator Pete Gaynor stated, “Donating blood is a safe process, and people should not hesitate to give. Blood drives have the highest standards of safety and infection control.”

Gaynor added, “Just as the social distancing guidance recommends that it’s okay for people to leave home for necessities like groceries, or a doctor’s visit, or the pharmacy — donating blood is a necessity.”

At blood drives conducted during the crisis, Vitalant will increase their already stringent methods to ensure donor and staff safety, including wearing gloves and personal protective gear and wiping down donor-touched and other high-touch areas often. Staff will wash their hands before and after any donor contact.

Chairs in the waiting area will be spaced farther apart than usual, 6 feet apart when space permits, which is the case at the LDS Church in Quincy, the local blood donation center.

It is possible that the COVID-19 crisis will have abated by the time of Quincy’s next drive in June, but if not, donors can feel confident that Vitalant is taking every necessary step to ensure all participants are safe during the process and that local blood supplies are sufficient to handle the need for blood, especially during pandemic conditions.

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