By Mike Kruzman /

Facing severe blood shortages, The American Red Cross has implemented additional precautions to ensure blood drives and donation centers are even safer for donors and staff.

The coronavirus pandemic has caused the cancellation of 2,700 blood drives in the U.S., including 160 from Michigan. This has resulted in 5,100 fewer blood donations in the state. Most of the cancelled drives were to take place in locations where people normally congregate like workplaces, college campuses, and schools, but that temporary social-distancing guidelines now recommend avoiding. The Red Cross collects roughly 80% of their blood from drives at these locations. While they expect the number of cancellations to increase over the coming weeks, the Red Cross is adding appointment slots at donation centers and is expanding capacity at many community blood drives that will be help.

Red Cross Spokesman Todd Kulman says that they have implemented new measures to ensure greater safety for donors and staff. The Red Cross will check the temperature of staff and donors before entering a drive to make sure they are healthy. They will provide hand sanitizer for use before the drive, and throughout the donation process. Beds will be spaced where possible to follow social distancing practices between donors, and there will be an increased disinfecting of surfaces and equipment.

Kulman said it is important for people to know that there is no evidence that the coronavirus, or any respiratory virus, can be transmitted by blood transfusion. He says that it’s safe and necessary, as every 2 seconds someone in the U.S. needs a blood donation. The need for blood, he says, doesn’t stop due to the flu or coronavirus, and is especially important to accident victims and patients undergoing cancer treatment.

Interested donors can find a donation site most easily by calling 1-800-RED-CROSS, or by visiting