Volunteers and students showed up for the annual Carolina-Clemson Blood Drive that took place from Sept. 21 to Sept. 23 despite the challenges due to COVID-19.
With new policies in place, the blood drive team performed the long-standing tradition of USC and Clemson coming together with the American Red Cross to donate blood. Russell House was home to beds, equipment and people ready to take on the challenge.
Second-year pre-pharmacy student Maggie Barabas said there was a difference in this year’s drive compared to previous years.
“We did a week-long drive where we competed against Clemson every year, but now we're breaking it into smaller drives for social distancing, and we're pooling our units with Clemson, so it's not really a competition,” Barabas said.
Barabas, who is also the head of the athletics committee for the drive, has had her job changed this year. Though it usually has prizes, including opportunities involving athletics, the blood drive couldn't do those things this time around.
“It's kind of more like, just straightforward drive,” Barabas said.
Barabas has now been doing any other jobs that need to be filled and ensuring everything runs smoothly.
Second-year biology student Hannah Steinberg, who is the logistics chair for the blood drive, said safety precautions are being taken to make the drive as safe as possible, including the requirement of hand sanitizer and masks.
“The person checking the temperature changes their gloves in between each thing,” Steinberg said.
The beds and tools are also sanitized.
Alongside the previous precautions that were carried out, a new job position was put into place this year — sanitizer.
“We have volunteers that are specifically sanitizers who are regulating COVID rules, and that's their one job. That was a new job that we created specifically for volunteers,” Steinberg said.
Despite the planning, there were still challenges. Third-year studio art student Julia Ballou, secretary for the blood drive, said one challenge this year is "trying to get all the donations that we want to build up while maintaining social distancing."
Barabas said the drive was "more chaotic" this year, as they tried to ensure everything "runs smoothly" and to handle additional duties.
Steinberg said she thought COVID-19 has impacted the blood drive in terms of participants.
“Maybe not as many people want to come donate because they're just afraid of going out,” Steinberg said. "It's motivating people to still [donate] — it's even more important."
Elise Deloach, a fourth-year public health student, gave two units of blood this week at the drive.
“I'm a universal donor, and so I think it's really important, so I can help as many people as possible,” Deloach said.
Deloach said donating blood "is pretty much the same" despite new regulations.
“Just more distancing, less beds," Deloach said. "Everybody's been six feet apart.”
Sally Fox, an account manager with American Red Cross at the event, said relative to the space that was available to them, they were "doing good, despite the circumstances."
According to an email from Blood Drive president Sydney Conley, 165 pints of blood were collected, which could save up to 495 people. Though 124 appointments were made, some people were unable to donate due to physiological issues. An exact number was not known for how many people.
Last year, the drive raised "2,500 to 3,000 units" over the course of a week. Units are roughly equal to a pint.
According to Conley, the group will hold another drive Oct. 5.