POUGHKEEPSIE — The American Red Cross and the National Football League are teaming up this January, during National Blood Donor Month, to urge individuals — especially those who have recovered from COVID-19 — to give blood and to help tackle the national convalescent plasma shortage. Right now, more donors are needed to help hospital patients.

During this critical time, the Red Cross and NFL are thrilled to offer all those who come to donate an opportunity to receive a special thank you this month. Those who come to donate blood or platelets this January will be automatically entered to win two tickets to next year’s Super Bowl LVI in Los Angeles. In addition, those who come to give through Jan. 20 will also be automatically entered to win the Big Game at Home package for an awesome viewing experience safely at home, with a 65-inch television and a $500 gift card to put toward food and fun.

Individuals can schedule an appointment to give blood today with the American Red Cross by visiting RedCrossBlood.org, using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, calling 1-800-RED-CROSS or activating the Blood Scheduling Skill for Amazon Alexa.

“Blood and plasma donors who have recovered from COVID-19 may have the power to help critically ill patients currently battling the virus,” said Dr. Erin Goodhue, Red Cross medical director of clinical services. “With hospital distributions for convalescent plasma increasing about 250% since October, these generous donations are vital in helping to save lives throughout the winter – a time that is often challenging to collect enough blood products for those in need.”

As COVID-19 cases have risen across the U.S., so has the need for convalescent plasma — leading to a shortage of this potentially lifesaving blood product. Like “special teams” units on the field, COVID-19 survivors have a unique ability to make a game-changing difference in the lives of COVID-19 patients. Individuals who have recovered from COVID-19 may have antibodies in their plasma that could provide a patient’s immune system the boost it needs to beat the virus.

There are two ways COVID-19 survivors can help — through a convalescent plasma donation or by simply giving whole blood. Plasma from whole blood donations that test positive for COVID-19 antibodies may be used to help COVID-19 patients. Health emergencies don’t pause for holidays, game days or a pandemic — blood is needed every two seconds in the U.S. to help patients battling injury and illness.

To protect the health and safety of Red Cross staff and donors, individuals who do not feel well or who believe they may be ill with COVID-19 should postpone their donation.

Each Red Cross blood drive and donation center follows the highest standards of safety and infection control, and additional precautions – including temperature checks, social distancing and face coverings for donors and staff — have been implemented to help protect the health of all those in attendance. Donors are asked to schedule an appointment prior to arriving at the drive and are required to wear a face covering or mask while at the drive, in alignment with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention public guidance.

Upcoming blood donation opportunities through Jan. 31:

Columbia County

Hudson Elks Lodge No. 787, 201 Harry Howard Ave., Hudson, 1-6 p.m. Jan. 14.

Palatine Park and Youth Activity Building, Palatine Park Road, Germantown, 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Jan. 16.

New Lebanon Firehouse- Community Room, 523 Route 20, New Lebanon, 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Jan. 23.

Dutchess County

Veterans Building, 413 Main St., Beacon, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Jan. 20.

Digestive Disease Center, 400 Westage Business Center Drive, Suite 209, Fishkill, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Jan. 21.

Grace Bible Church, 158 Myers Corners Road, Wappingers Falls, 9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Jan. 21.

Boardman Road Branch Library, 141 Boardman Road, Poughkeepsie, 2-7 p.m. Jan. 28.

The Masonic Lodge in Tivoli, 7 North Road, Tivoli, 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Jan. 28.

Moose Lodge 904, 1273 Route 9G, Hyde Park, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Jan. 29.

Greene County

St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church, 80 Mansion St., Coxsackie, noon-5 p.m. Jan. 22.

Town of Ashland Ambulance, 12094 Route 23, Ashland, 1-6 p.m. Jan. 27.

Resurrection Lutheran Church, 186 Main St., Cairo, 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Jan. 30.

Ulster County

Best Western Plus Kingston Hotel, 503 Washington Ave., Kingston, noon-5 p.m. Jan. 26.

Saugerties Knights of Columbus Council 4536, 19 Barclay St., Saugerties, 1-6 p.m. Jan. 29.

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