San Diego city leaders put a call out Thursday for the public to donate blood and food to help those in need during the coronavirus pandemic, with assurances that volunteer groups are taking precautions to make sure residents can donate safely.
Citing recent, widespread cancellations of blood drives and a lack of volunteers to man blood and food donation centers, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, along with representatives from the American Red Cross and San Diego Food Bank, urged residents to help the city address the ongoing need for donations.
“Although we have social distancing and physical limitations, it’s still very important that we lend a helping hand to our neighbors and those other San Diegans that need that,” Faulconer said.
Sean Mahoney, CEO of the American Red Cross of San Diego and Imperial counties, said the pandemic has resulted in “a severe blood shortage,” stemming from 4,500 blood drives canceled nationwide, 285 of which were in Southern California.
Mahoney said the American Red Cross has instituted new measures to ensure the donation process is safe, including maintaining clean donation spaces and keeping donation cots well apart from one another, per social distancing directives.
Faulconer said he donated blood Thursday morning at the American Red Cross in Kearny Mesa, and said the entire process took about 40 minutes.
“Like a hospital, a grocery store or pharmacy, a blood drive is essential to ensuring the health of the community,” Mahoney said. “The Red Cross will continue to collect blood products during this challenging time to meet patient needs, including those in the many San Diego hospitals that we serve.”
Those who are healthy and feeling well enough to donate were urged to go to redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED-CROSS to schedule an appointment.
Jim Floros, San Diego Food Bank CEO, said food donations and volunteers were needed for the San Diego Food Bank’s 200 emergency food distribution centers.
Floros said the food bank served about 350,000 people per month before the pandemic.
However, he said the food bank has had “a huge amount of volunteer cancellations just in the last week.”
He said measures were being taken to make sure the distribution centers are safe for volunteers and those in need of donations, including social distancing and “touchless” distribution, in which food bank staff will handle any electronic signature pads that clients would previously need to handle.
Seniors enrolled in the food bank’s senior program can also have proxies pick up food from distribution centers on their behalf, Floros said.
To find volunteer opportunities, go to sandiegofoodbank.org. Those who need food were advised to call 211, go to www.211sandiego.org or call 866- 350-FOOD.
— City News Service