MERIDEN — A blood drive will be held at the Connecticut State Police Academy today from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. for first responders to donate. Various police departments, fire departments and the National Guard have been asked to participate. With the COVID-19 outbreak, the American Red Cross is seeing a severe shortage in blood donations due to canceled drives. The academy plans on hosting multiple blood drives since all recruits are currently engaged in distance learning off-site.

Giving blood is essential and the Red Cross is taking additional steps to make the blood drives safer in light of social distancing. There have been no reported cases of any respiratory virus being transmitted by blood, including this coronavirus (COVID-19). Donating blood is a safe process and people should not hesitate to give blood.

The Red Cross always employs thorough safety protocols to help prevent the spread of any type of infection. In response to COVID-19, we’ve implemented additional precautionary methods, including but not limited to:

• All donors are temperature-screened before being permitted into the blood drive. If bodily temperature is above 99.5°F, the donor is asked to donate another time instead

• All Red Cross staff are asked to check their temperature before presenting to work, and will not to report for work if they are showing any symptoms or test above 99.5°F

• Blood donors are asked to use hand sanitizer before and during the donation process; staff wear gloves throughout the donation process, changing gloves between every donor

• Donor beds are sanitized between every donor

• There will be medically-recommended space between donors wherever possible.

For more information or to find a blood drive, visit RedCross.org.

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