JACKSON, Wyo. \u2014 The regularly scheduled April blood drive is a go in Teton County.\r\n\r\nLocal health authorities have cleared the blood drive to be held Wednesday, April 22 from 12-6 p.m. and again on Thursday, April 23 from 7:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. at Shepherd of the Mountains Lutheran Church in west Jackson.\r\n\r\nCOVID-19 has changed a lot of our day-to-day activities, but one thing remains: Blood donation is an essential healthcare activity and blood is a vital resource that only comes from volunteer donors.\r\n\r\nVitalant is organizing the local blood drive. Founded in 1943, Vitalant is one of the nation\u2019s oldest and largest nonprofit transfusion medicine organizations.\r\n\r\nThe upcoming blood drive is critical to avoiding another public health crisis: not having enough blood to meet basic patient needs. Blood supplies across the country are plummeting amid concerns about coronavirus \u2014 American Red Cross reported a loss of about 86,000 blood donations due to canceled drives last month. It is estimated that someone needs a blood transfusion every two seconds.\r\n\r\nVitalant\u2019s highest priority is the safety of the blood supply, its donors, patients and staff. Blood donors must be healthy, feeling well and free of respiratory illness symptoms, including fever, to be eligible to donate.\r\n\r\nQuestions and concerns, especially in light of the current pandemic, are anticipated. Check Vitalent\u2019s FAQ section\u00a0for answers to commonly asked questions. If you have questions that aren't answered on the website, please reach out to Sandy Thomas with Vitalant at 307-922-2366.\r\n\r\nFirst and foremost, it is safe to donate. There is no inherent risk of getting coronavirus from the donation procedure itself, according to AABB, a nonprofit representing the blood transfusion field. To minimize the risk of contracting it from others at a blood drive or donation center, Vitalant's staff follow the most updated CDC guidelines and adhere to rigorous safety and disinfection protocols that include wearing gloves and personal protective gear, wiping down donor-touched areas often and after every collection, using sterile collection sets for every donation\/collection, and arm scrubbing for 30 seconds.\r\n\r\nIt should also be noted that blood donation does not impact or weaken a donor\u2019s immune system. Due to the nature of the virus, it is highly unlikely that it can be transmitted through blood transfusions. There are no reported cases.\r\n\r\nAt this upcoming drive, Vitalent is taking donors by appointment only. The schedule is designed to take only 2-3 appointments at a time. For increased safety, if the weather is good, there will be a check-in desk outside. That way staff can confirm phone numbers and if the facility is at capacity, donors can wait in their car until they are called or texted to come in. Appointments can also be made by calling 1-800-456-7057.\r\n\r\nAll donors are encouraged to fill out their Fast Track health history questionnaire on the day of their appointment. Do this online. You can print out your Fast Track ticket at home or have it on your smart phone.\r\n\r\nOn March 19, the FDA stated, \u201cMaintaining adequate levels of our nation\u2019s blood supply is critical. People who donate blood are equivalent to those people who are working in a critical infrastructure industry. In volunteering to do so, they are contributing immeasurably to the public health of our nation."