QUINCY — The need continues, but donations are dropping nationwide.
Blood drives nationwide have been canceled, but locally the American Red Cross has been able to find alternative sites so far.
"Between private business and high schools, there have been cancellations here, and that started a week or 10 days ago," said Account Manager Jim Whitfield. "I have a high school next week that I had to look for an alternative location, and I managed to do that. So we managed to save that drive."
The Red Cross has had more than 5,000 blood drives canceled nationwide because of concerns with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). This means the organization has seen 170,000 fewer donations than it typically would receive.
"The need is still there," Whitfield said. "Cancer patients still need treatment. There's still trauma patients that are coming through the ER. Organ transplants, you still need to take care of them. We just need to get the message out that drives are still being held."
Blood banks are considered essential operations under Illinois' stay-at-home order that was issued Friday.
The Red Cross has started new procedures to protect donors, staff and the blood supply with the emergence of the coronavirus.
"The first thing donors will see when they walk into a drive now is that their temperature will be taken," Whitfield said. "If they're at 99.6 and above, we're going to ask that they don't donate."
Hand sanitizer will be available at each station. Red Cross staff will wear gloves throughout the entire process, with them being changed after each donor.
"Tablets, computers, tables, beds are all wiped down with sanitary wipes after every donor," Whitfield said.
Appointments to donate blood can be made by visiting redcrossblood.org, using the Red Cross Blood Donor app or calling 800-RED-CROSS