March 30, 2020 ‘WSU Tri-Cities paved the way’ – one of few universities holding blood drive amid COVID-19
By Maegan Murray, WSU Tri-Cities
RICHLAND, Wash. – More than 400 blood drives have been canceled across Washington and Oregon amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Many are due to schools going online and closing their physical doors, of which make up 20 percent of all blood drives in the United States. Others are due to businesses having to close their doors. That is why student leaders at Washington State University Tri-Cities and university administration pushed to still hold the drive that would help stabilize blood supply for individuals suffering from cancer, health conditions, serious accidents and more.
“While individuals may not be receiving blood for the coronavirus, because of the pandemic, many are canceling their blood drives, which has led to a massive shortage,” said Shana Loomis, account manager with the American Red Cross. “Blood has a short shelf life and requires a constant supply. Every two seconds, someone in the United States is receiving a blood product.”
Categorized as an essential operation, WSU Tri-Cities and the Associated Students of WSU Tri-Cities held the blood drive in partnership with the American Red Cross while still following strict social distancing and best practice health and safety measures.
“We felt that it was something important for us to do,” said Robin Kovis, student body president-elect for the Associated Students of WSU Tri-Cities. “Right now, we are experiencing a global pandemic and blood is in large need – even more than usual. Blood has a very short shelf life and a lot of people need it. It is important for people, who are willing and able, to give blood.”
Loomis said WSU really paved the way for showing that blood drives were not only important amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but that it is possible to hold them safely while still maintaining best health and safety practices and social distancing.
“I am grateful to WSU For continuing with the blood drive, as well as their efforts to get the word out to the community,” she said. “Phones were ringing off the hook once the promotion for the drive went out. It shows that organizations can still help to maintain the nation’s blood supply and the health and safety of community members.”
Every time slot for donations were filled Friday by WSU Tri-Cities campus members, community members and those wanting to make an immediate difference amid the pandemic.
Tiffany Jones, a Tri-Cities resident and parent of a former WSU Tri-Cities running start student, said she wanted to contribute something tangible amid COVID-19.
“I think that a lot of people are feeling pretty helpless,” she said. “It is something I could do. My son is able to do it, too, so he wanted to come along. It doesn’t seem like much, but it feels good to give back, even in a small way.”
Her son, Corbyn Jones, gave blood for the first time on Friday.
“It just felt right giving back to my local community,” he said.
Ellie Barber, a WSU Tri-Cities senior psychology major, said she came out to give blood as a healthy able-bodied person, especially given the shortage. She said she heard about the blood drive via an email from WSU Tri-Cities.
“I think it is really important for providing students with access to these situations because not every student knows where the blood donation centers are in Richland or wherever they are from,” she said. “For students, it is better access. I’ve always had a positive experience donating with the Red Cross and I would encourage everybody to donate if they can and if they are healthy.”
WSU Tri-Cities administration worked closely with the American Red Cross to identify safety measures that would work best for protecting individuals amid the pandemic. All participants’ temperatures were taken at the door, they were each given a personal vial of hand sanitizer and were instructed to maintain at least six feet apart from other participants at all times. After donating, all stations were sanitized. Those wanting to sign up for drop-ins appointments could also do so at the door, one at a time – their phone numbers were taken on a sign-up sheet and they were called if there was a no-show appointment.
“We are very grateful to WSU for still holding this blood drive,” Loomis said. “When we were having massive amounts of cancelations throughout the Tri-Cities, WSU really stepped up and asked the question of ‘How can we still hold this blood drive and maintain safety?’ They paved the way for other folks in the Tri-Cities to know that they can still hold these blood drives and do so safely.”
Loomis said there will be a need for blood donations for not only weeks, but months.
“It will continue well through the summer,” she said. “We encourage people to donate, if they are healthy and able to do so.”
To find a local donation location and for more information, visit redcrossblood.org.