For what seemed like the umpteenth time this summer, alarms were sounded this week over dangerously low supplies of blood of all types.
Normal summertime blood and platelet shortages continue to be unusually severe this year and are extending now into autumn. The blame? You could have guessed it: still COVID-19. Countless blood drives appropriately have been canceled or curtailed since March 2020, regular donors remain understandably leery of donation centers and the potential spread of the coronavirus and now also the delta variant, and an uptick in elective surgeries and other medical procedures that had been put off during lockdowns are quickly now draining bags of donated blood.
With supplies as alarmingly low as less than three days, Amazon gift cards, Minnesota State Fair tickets, and more all have been offered as incentives to get donors into recliners and needles into their arms.
This week, Memorial Blood Centers offered a chance to win a barbecue grill to anyone who gives through Monday.
More than half of blood supplies were lost to canceled blood drives, the centers pointed out. Encouragingly, those drives are resuming now with masking requirements, appointments to help ensure social distancing, and other stepped-up precautions at donation sites.
“Blood donation is safe and essential,” Memorial Blood Centers assured in a statement Tuesday.
Appointments can be made at mbc.org or by calling 1-888-448-3253. A blood drive is scheduled today from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Grand Ely Lodge, 400 N. Pioneer Rd. Another 27 are scheduled across Northeastern Minnesota and Northwestern Wisconsin through the end of September. In Duluth there are blood drives Sept. 10 at the College of St. Scholastica, Sept. 13 at Lake Superior College, Sept. 15 at St. Luke’s, Sept. 15 at Loll Designs, Sept. 20 at the University of Minnesota Duluth, and Sept. 28 at Cirrus Aircraft.
As the News Tribune has editorialized this summer, there’s a demonstrated clear need for more of us to make a conscious and deliberate effort to give, even when our minds are on a thousand other things, including, still, avoiding getting sick. The need for blood doesn't get any time off no matter how concerning the public health risk.