LifeStream encourages community to donate blood in wake of COVID-19

With cases of COVID-19 increasing in San Bernardino County, a significant decrease in blood donations has transpired.

In recent weeks, San Bernardino’s LifeStream has cancelled numerous of its blood drives across the county.

“LifeStream and the American Red Cross have acknowledged that there is a nationwide blood shortage. Due to COVID-19 there is a lack of blood; but there are still cancer patients needing transfusions, babies are still born everyday and lifesaving procedures are still taking place,” said Don Escalante, LifeStream spokesperson.

Another element that has halted donors from giving blood is the concern of social distancing, an order issued by California Governor Gavin Newsom the week of March 16.

Donors must make an appointment and wear face coverings before entering donor centers.

“Blood donation sites are as safe as can be for prospective donors. First our staff is screened before coming into work to check for respiratory related infections, their temperature is taken, and we have repositioned our seating arrangements throughout the building, distancing all people at least six feet apart,” continued Escalante.

He also shared that volunteers and donors go through the same health screening as their employees to ensure the safety of all.

“We urge donors not to come if they are not feeling well. We have always implemented this rule, but we want to reinforce it at this time,” said Escalante.

Another necessary change made to maintain cleanliness and mitigate the spread of germs is eliminating donors from garnering their own snacks and drinks from the basket; trained volunteers wearing gloves are now handing snacks to donors.

“Healthy individuals at least 15 years of age may donate blood. All prospective donors should be free of infections or illness, weigh at least 115 pounds, and not be at risk for AIDS or hepatitis.  Donors receive a free mini-physical as part of the donation process. Donating blood takes about an hour, yet gives someone a lifetime,” concluded Escalante.

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