HERMITAGE, Tenn. (WKRN) – As snow fell across Tennessee, COVID cases continued to rise. Blood Assurance had numerous cancellations and a vast number of no-shows. 

Last week alone, the center had more than 50 blood drive cancellations, resulting in more than 800 units of blood not ending up at the hospitals they supply. The blood shortage isn’t a new problem. It’s been an ongoing issue since March of 2020 when COVID-19 started to spread. However, recent winter weather and the spread of the omicron variant have exacerbated the problem.

“I can tell you that our chief medical officer has had to contact our hospitals five times in the last year, telling them to hold off on elective surgeries because of concerns with COVID,” said Max Winitz with Blood Assurance. “Because the blood supply has been so low, I work with so many people who have been phlebotomists who have been in the blood industry for years, some even decades. And they say this is the lowest supply they have ever seen.”

Winitz said the winter months, January, specifically, is often the worst month for blood banks across the country. With the omicron variant in the mix, he called it the perfect storm.

Winitz added that over the weekend, they opened all of their brick-and-mortar facilities. Some are already open on Saturdays. Most are closed on Sundays, but they decided to open all of them throughout the weekend. He said that did make up for some of the ground they lost last week. 

On Saturday, Blood Assurance opened a new location off Lebanon Pike in Hermitage.

“Our Hermitage facility is now open,” he said. “We’re very proud that it caters to folks in the Mt. Juliet area as well as Eastern Davidson County. So, it’s really exciting – within the next couple of months, we’re opening a facility in Bellevue, so that will cater to Western Davidson County.”

This weekend, the center offered $10 Amazon gift cards to all donors supplying whole blood and $20 gift cards to donors who gave double red cells, plasma, and platelets. Winitz told News 2 the center will be offering a commemorative 50-year anniversary t-shirt to those who donate throughout the month of January.

“The greatest incentive of all is knowing that your single donation can save up to three lives and those friends, family members, neighbors in our area hospitals, again, fighting cancer or fighting injuries sustained in car accidents, a number of things,” said Winitz.

To register for an appointment to donate, click here. Walk-ins are welcome.

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Winitz said the center has received questions regarding COVID-19, vaccinations, and giving blood. He said if you’ve been vaccinated or if you haven’t been vaccinated, it’s still safe to give blood. He said it’s also safe to donate blood if you’ve been infected with COVID-19 in the past.