RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — UNC REX and WakeMed are partnering with The Blood Connection (TBC) on Thursday to host a blood drive at PNC Arena in hopes of avoiding a blood shortage during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The blood drive will be held from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at PNC. The drive will prioritize social distancing in order to keep everyone safe.

Blood centers and hospitals are pleading with anyone who feels healthy to come out and donate blood because coronavirus concerns have led to drops in blood donations and have resulted in what TBC calls “a national emergency.”

According to the release, “TBC has seen a sharp increase in blood drive cancellations and very low donor turnout due to fears surrounding the virus, accumulating to a deficit of more than 9,000 units of blood. That number continues to rise.”

Special precautions will be taken during this drive to limit exposure and encourage social distancing. These measures include:
Donors will be asked to wait in their cars to eliminate the need for people to gather in the same area before their donation.
Donors will be contacted via call or text when TBC is ready to start the donation process.
Donor chairs will be spaced as far apart as possible.
Donors are strongly encouraged to make an appointment to control social distancing.
Make an appointment by visiting thebloodconnection.org/donate-blood or by calling 800-392-6551.

“If those who are feeling healthy donate now and encourage others to do the same, there could be little to no impact from COVID-19, and communities’ blood supplies will remain resilient and self-sustaining,” said Dr. Robert Rainer, medical director for The Blood Connection.

Free parking will be available for donors at the main entrance of the arena. Signage will direct donors to registration and screening areas. Appointments are strongly recommended in order to control social distancing and limit interaction. All donors will receive a $20 VISA gift card.

Donors will be given wellness screenings prior to their donation and TBC is taking extra precautionary measures to ensure donation sites are clean and safe places to donate blood., according to the release.