Coronavirus prompts urgent call for blood donors

Coronavirus prompts urgent call for blood donors

The American Legion has supported The American Red Cross throughout the history of our organizations. In fact, the American Legion Blood Donor Program has existed officially since 1942 to encourage donations.

Once again there is a critical need for healthy blood donors to step forward.

“As our nation faces the coronavirus emergency, the Red Cross is experiencing a severe blood shortage,” said American Legion National Commander Bill Oxford, who to date has donated more than 8 gallons. “The coronavirus pandemic could affect millions of Americans, meaning fewer people are eligible to donate. At the same time, the Red Cross is noticing an uptick in the number of cancellations of blood drives. There is an urgent need for blood now.”

As the coronavirus pandemic has grown here in the United States, the number of blood drive cancellations has escalated. As of March 18, more than 4,500 Red Cross blood drives have been cancelled across the country due to coronavirus concerns, resulting in about 150,000 fewer blood donations.

The Red Cross is looking for other organizations to host community blood drives throughout this crisis so they can continue with this essential and vital community service. The Red Cross advises American Legion members that donating blood remains a safe process and donations will help keep the blood supply stable.

“You served your country admirably,” said American Red Cross National Partnerships Director Donna M. Morrissey. “We need your help again during this crisis.”

Right now many states are issuing travel bans to all but essential travel. Like grocery shopping, medical appointments and pharmacy pickups, blood drives are essential to ensure the health of the community. The Red Cross will continue to hold blood drives.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Food and Drug Administration have issued statements encouraging blood donation for those who are well. Recently, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said, "You can still go out and give blood. We’re worried about potential blood shortages in the future. Social distancing does not have to mean social disengagement.”

Remember that only healthy people can donate blood. Many donors complete the questionnaire portion of their donation at home and would be deferred before arrival if they were sick. At each blood drive, the Red Cross has implemented pre-screening protocols to check the temperature of donors before they enter the blood drive. Social distancing is used to space donors and meet local regulations. Red Cross employees also follow thorough safety protocols including wearing gloves, wiping down donor-touched areas after every collection, using sterile collection sets for every donation, and arm scrubbing. These mitigation measures help ensure the safety of all.

In addition, please note that there are no data or evidence to show that this coronavirus can be transmissible by blood transfusion, and there have been no reported cases of transmissions for any respiratory virus including this coronavirus. Nonetheless, the Red Cross has implemented new blood donation deferrals out of an abundance of caution, asking individuals to postpone their donation for 28 days if they meet certain risk criteria like travel to highly effected areas.

If you are able to host a blood drive, please reply online at A representative from the local office will then get back to you shortly.

To schedule an appointment to donate, please visit