MERIDEN — City volunteers heeded the call Tuesday by donating blood in response to the Red Cross annoucing a critical blood shortage due to an “unprecedented number of blood drive cancelations” due to the coronavirus.
The blood drive at the State Police Academy was hosted in conjunction with state police. Kimberly Moreland, district manager for the Red Cross, said state police reached out to the Red Cross to offer the use of the space. Red Cross officials reported a severe blood shortage after blood drives were being canceled at an alarming rate — more than 2,700 cancelations across the country — and donors were urgently needed.
“Not knowing what tomorrow holds, the need for blood is constant,” Moreland said at the event on Tuesday.
Red Cross officials took a lot of precautions to keep donors safe. Before donors entered the building, their temperatures were taken and they were shown a list of symptoms and asked if they were experiencing any. Inside the space at the academy, five beds were set up for the donors, sanitized between donors, and the seven staff members wore gloves that got changed after every donor.
“We know a lot of blood drives have been canceled due to COVID-19 and there is a shortage of blood,” Trooper First Class Christine Jeltema said. “We want to show the community that we are still here for them.”
The goal for Tuesday’s event was 30 donor units. Moreland expected to surpass that number. The event started with a call to first responders through state police and the earliest donors were all first responders, Moreland said. State police posted following the event that 65 units of blood were collected. State police also announced on Twitter Wednesday morning that all of the appointments were booked for Thursday’s event and asked donors to consider signing up for the April 1st event.
Retired state trooper Chris Ganzer, of Newington, signed up so he can give back to the community during this time of crisis.
Moreland said there is no evidence that a respiratory virus, like COVID-19, is transmitted by blood. As the areas filled up in the late morning, Moreland had staff make a list of names and phone numbers and asked new donors to wait in their cars to keep safe social distancing in the collection area.
Nicole Foss-Rugan, a Meriden resident, is a member of the Army National Guard and has a 6-month-old child. She wanted to come out as soon as possible after giving birth.
“It’s always been important to me,” Foss-Rugan said about donating blood.
She said she wasn’t sure if there would still be blood drives, but found out about Tuesday’s event online and signed up. The Red Cross said 46 blood drives in Connecticut have been canceled, resulting in about 1,300 fewer blood donations.
Elizabeth Mahoney, of Meriden, also found out about the event online and said she signed up after hearing about the shortage. Mahoney said she usually donates every few months, and moved up her timeframe so she could participate during this time of need.
People who want to donate blood can schedule an appointment with the Red Cross by visiting RedCrossBlood.org, using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, calling 1-800-RED-CROSS or enabling the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device.