American Red Cross blood drives are scheduled for four dates in April at the shuttered Mall of America in an effort to make up for the thousands of drives across the country that have been canceled in the wake of the global coronavirus outbreak.
The staging area will be in the Bloomington mall’s north atrium, which is “open and spacious enough to allow the necessary social distancing practices to take place for staff, donors and volunteers,” the Red Cross said in a statement Tuesday announcing the effort.
The drives are scheduled for April, 7, 8, 17 and 18 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The mall is otherwise closed, as it has been for the past two weeks.
Potential donors are being asked being asked to make an appointment to help manage the influx of people and adhere to social distancing guidelines.
Healthy individuals can schedule appointments at redcrossblood.org or through the free Red Cross Blood App using sponsor code “MOA.”
Since the arrival of COVID-19, 295 Red Cross blood drives in Minnesota and the Dakotas have been canceled as of late last week, resulting in an estimated loss of 9,800 donors.
Blood drives are an essential component of the voluntary blood-collection system, and many organizations sponsor them as a form of community service. While the number of people who participate in drives may vary, it is unusual to have so many drives canceled in a short period.
The Red Cross says that numerous precautions will be taken during the Mall of America drive dates to ensure the health of employees, volunteers and staff. They include:
• Checking temperatures of staff and donors before entering the drive to make sure they are healthy.
• Providing hand sanitizer for use before the drive, as well as throughout the donation process.
• Following social distancing between donors including entry, donation and refreshment areas.
• Routinely disinfecting surfaces, equipment and donor-touched areas.
• Wearing gloves and changing gloves often.
• Using sterile collection sets and an aseptic scrub for every donation.