- Mike Dunbar
- Media Advisor
- (209) 404-5569
MERCED, CA. – In Merced and Stanislaus counties, high school and college students are some of the most reliable people in the community when it comes to giving blood. Each year they have organized blood drives at more than two dozen schools and colleges throughout the region.
But in this time of COVID-19, those blood drives – like classes at their schools – have been canceled. These cancellations, which have caused unprecedented shortages, pushed the Red Cross to begin pleading for blood, platelet, and plasma donations as early as March. Shortages are not expected to let up. In November alone, the American Red Cross has already been forced to cancel drives scheduled for Patterson, Hilmar, Ceres and Turlock. Another nine set for December have also been canceled.
“We’re forecasting that we’re going to be struggling in ways we’ve never seen,” said Red Cross Biomed Account Manager Rob Finley. “That’s because the schools – colleges and high schools – support blood drives. The fall will be very, very challenging.”
Assemblyman Adam Gray stepped in to help fill that void early this year, and his efforts have yet to cease. His office has coordinated with the Red Cross to host three blood drives in September:
CERES: Tues., Sept.15 MERCED: Thurs., Sept. 17 and Fri., Sept. 25
9:00 am to 3:00pm 9:00am to 3:00pm
Ceres Community Center Merced Italo-American Lodge
2701 4th Street, Ceres 1351 W. 18th Street. Merced
The three upcoming drives come on the heels of three previous drives (in Merced and Patterson), all of which have been coordinated by Gray and his team since the onset of the pandemic. In each drive, the people of his district have stepped up to fill every available slot.
“Merced has been a model,” said Gray. “Every time we’ve asked, our folks have not only responded, but helped us exceed the donation expectations. We’re learning now that the need now, unfortunately, is even greater – emergency surgical procedures, car accidents, and lifesaving transfusions are still occurring every day, pandemic or no pandemic.”
Due to preparations to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, donations are scheduled in 15-minute increments. There are 35 donation spaces available each day, and because slots fill up fast, the Red Cross urges that donors make reservations.
An added perk? All donations are also screened for COVID-19 antibodies.
“Our last drive filled up in a heartbeat,” said Finley. “You have a community that supports the blood drives. It’s great.”
Reserving a time to donate is easy. Go to www.redcrossblood.org and look for the red box in the top right corner which states “Find a Blood Drive.” To schedule a donation slot for the upcoming Ceres drive, type cerescommunity (no spaces) in the box. To schedule a donation slot for either of the upcoming Merced drives, type adamgray (no spaces). into the red box in the top right corner under “Find a Blood Drive.”
Or, call (800) 733-2767 and a Red Cross customer care representative will help set up the appointment. Any questions regarding your eligibility to donate blood can be answered by calling (866) 236-3276.
Remember, you must wear a mask when entering the donation area.
Adam Gray represents the 21st Assembly District, which includes Merced County and the western half of Stanislaus County. He can be reached at (209) 726-5465 or at Assemblymember.email@example.com.