Blood Bank increases capacity, extends hours to maintain supply

DOVER — To combat the interruption of blood donations due to the coronavirus, the Blood Bank of Delmarva is increasing access to encourage donors to supplement the blood supply, officials said. 

The blood bank has increased capacity, extended hours and opened extra days at donor centers in Dover and Newark, as well as Chadds Ford, Pa. and Salisbury, Md.

The extra push comes following the closure of schools, businesses and religious institutions, as around 40% of the blood supply comes from drives organized by community groups, Christopher Hillyer, president and CEO of Blood Bank of Delmarva, said in a prepared statement. 

“These modifications will provide controlled, safe environments for healthy donors. By quickly implementing this sustainable long-term solution we have worked to prevent our blood supply from dropping to dangerously low levels,” Dr. Hillyer continued.

Blood donations — which includes blood, plasma and platelets — go to patients in treatment for cancer, burns and trauma, as well as newborn babies and their mothers. Hospitals tend to keep a seven-day supply on hand, and blood is perishable, Tony Prado, a spokesman, said in a previous interview.

While it is rare for blood to stay “on the shelf” for that long, it should be replenished daily so the supply remains at seven days, Mr. Prado said. 

Donations take an hour, and one donation can aid multiple people in need. 

Blood donation is safe, Mr. Prado added, as staff are trained to prevent the spread of infectious agents and regularly clean public surfaces.

People are not eligible to donate if they’re experiencing a cold, sore throat, respiratory infection or flu-like symptoms. Donors are encouraged to refrain from donating, or attending a blood drive, if they have traveled to areas with COVID-19 outbreaks, as defined by CDC, officials said. 

Mr. Prado noted that, through screener for donation, staff can identify signs of illness — like low-grade fevers — and will send donors home until they’re at least three days free from symptoms. 

The blood bank does not test for COVID-19. 

Helpful Coronavirus links

Delaware Division of Health Coronavirus Page
CDC: About the Coronavirus Disease 2019
CDC: What to do if You Are Sick
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center
AP News Coronavirus Coverage
Reopening Delaware: Resources for Businesses
Delaware Phase 2 guidance

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