OLIVIA HARVEY, Features Editor—In the midst of an international health crisis, Denison students, faculty, and community members are pitching in to maintain the health of the nation’s blood supply.

Last Wednesday, The Red Cross set up on the third floor of Slayter Student Union, as one of several blood-drive days. According to The Red Cross, “Every unit we donate at our blood drive can help save up to three lives.”

The Blood Drive is a regular feature here at Denison, and in the midst of a public health crisis, the event is more vital than ever before.

Beyond making a meaningful difference, donors were also alerted that any blood given would be tested for Covid-19 antibodies. The FDA-approved antibody test determines whether the donor’s immune system has responded to the infection by producing antibodies, even if they had no symptoms; the test, however, does not assess if the virus is currently present. Those who receive a positive antibody result, “may have the unique opportunity to help patients fighting the disease,” according to The Red Cross, by donating convalescent plasma, which is the part of blood containing antibodies.

Given the current circumstances regarding Covid-19, extra precautions are taken during the process of giving blood, in order to follow health guidelines and protect donors. When a potential donor walks up, their temperature is taken and assessed to determine if they may continue. Once they are approved, they are led to one of the socially-distant stations, spaced well apart from the others, and attended by a masked Red Cross volunteer.

Though the procedure of giving blood looks different than before, it remains a vital operation that has direct impacts for those in need. The United States Surgeon General, Vice Admiral Jerome M. Adams, M.D., M.P.H., urges anyone who can donate, to do so: “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.”

Anyone interested may sign up at redcrossblood.org or email Susie Kalinoski at [email protected]; walk-ins are also welcome.