3 ways the American Red Cross is responding to COVID-19

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The Red Cross offers assistance to families affected by natural disasters. Photo via American Red Cross

When you think of the Red Cross, your mind probably jumps to blood donations. Well, at least mine does. However, the Red Cross does so much more—see how the Red Cross is responding to the COVID-19 crisis both locally and internationally.

1. Virtual Assistance

Just because we’re stuck indoors doesn’t mean that outside forces can’t affect our lives. House fires, tornados and other disasters still affect many Alabama residents. In the past, the Red Cross would send a volunteer to assess damage and work with the family to provide financial assistance, food and medical care.

However, they have had to shift to virtual assistance while quarantined. Since many Red Cross volunteers are older and at-risk for contracting COVID-19, virtual assistance lets the volunteers provide help to families over the phone.

In fact, they have as many as 175 disaster volunteers that provide relief to areas hit by tornados in Alabama and Mississippi—and in our new environment, about 97% of them are providing help virtually.

Additionally, the Red Cross of Alabama is grateful for the support from their disaster partner, Shipt. Their contribution allows the Red Cross to pre-position supplies and personnel ahead of a disaster and respond immediately to provide comfort and care to families in need.

2. Extra Precautions

If you are healthy and feeling well, please make an appointment to donate blood & help overcome a severe blood shortage amid the COVID-19 outbreak. Photo via American Red Cross of Alabama on Facebook

The Red Cross is taking extra precautions to make sure their staff, volunteers and donators are safe, such as:

  • Checking temperatures of donors to determine if they have a fever.
  • Practicing social distancing.
  • Encouraging donors to wear masks.
  • Constantly sterilizing surfaces.

It’s important to note that donating blood is safe—there’s no evidence that COVID-19 can be passed through blood. Even so, the Red Cross is taking care to ensure that all IVs, blood bags and other materials are sterile.

3. International Aid

Members of the Red Cross distributing supplies in ____. Photo via International Committee of the Red Cross on Facebook

The Red Cross doesn’t just help Americans. The international arm of the Red Cross is invested in donating their services to people in need around the globe. For instance, Red Cross doctors have been staffing quarantine facilities in Japan and the Netherlands. In China, the Red Cross has more than 50,000 volunteers helping with messaging and assisting in the control of the epidemic. And in South Korea they have distributed relief supplies—more than 63,000 masks and 6,000 meal kits. 

How You Can Help

Bham Now’s Pat Byington and Annette Rowland with American Red Cross gave blood at the UAB donation site on March 13, 2020. Photo by Bham Now

Although the Red Cross has a stable supply of blood, they are worried about the future. More than 5,000 Red Cross blood drives have been canceled across the country due to COVID-19 concerns, resulting in over 170,000 lost donations. Since elective surgeries are expected to pick back up in May and June, the Red Cross is in need of blood donations.

You can make a blood donation appointment at www.redcrossblood.org.

If you’re a bit squeamish about donating blood (I don’t blame you!), you can still help by donating financially. Since Red Cross is spending millions of dollars across the world to respond to COVID-19, every financial donation is encouraged, accepted and appreciated.

With hurricane season coming up, the Red Cross is preparing to respond to these local disasters and more. Financial donations help the Red Cross carry out their mission throughout the world.

By using satellite technology and partnering with local governments, disaster volunteers on the ground aim to get resources like meals, financial assistance, cleaning supplies and more to people impacted by disasters. Although COVID-19 has modified the way the Red Cross is responding to disasters, it has not affected the level of care and service they provide to the communities.

How will you help out the Red Cross? Tag us @bhamnow and let us know!

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  • Tennessee native who fell in love with Birmingham during college. Graduated from Birmingham-Southern College in 2019. Passionate about Birmingham and its continued growth.