From Businesses to Blood Banks, Fort Worth Shows Support For Communities Hit Hard By Coronavirus

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From businesses to blood banks, Fort Worth organizations are stepping up to support communities navigating through challenging times amid coronavirus concerns.

The Fort Worth Police Officers’ Association is buying hundreds of bulk meals every day for their police officers in every patrol division. The meals are purchased from restaurants and local businesses that have been hit hard by the impact of COVID-19, forced to operate under limited services in an effort to stop the spread.

On Friday afternoon, hot meals from Buffalo Brothers were delivered and distributed to officers.

“We’re identifying businesses that are very at risk of going out of business with this loss of revenue,” association president Manny Ramirez told NBC 5. “We recognize that local business, the bedrock of our communities – they step up all the time when we’re in need. I think, right now, we recognize they’re in need and it’s our turn to step up.”

An executive order issued by Gov. Greg Abbott this week temporarily closes all Texas schools and prohibits dining-in at bars and restaurants, meaning only services like takeout and delivery are allowed.

Operations at Billy Bob’s Texas have closed as of right now, according to marketing director Keitha Spears. Concerts have all been either postponed or rescheduled for a later date.

However, Billy Bob’s Texas was given special permission by the city to open Friday through Sunday for a blood drive in partnership with Carter Bloodcare.

The local blood bank works with more than 200 hospitals in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, along with Waco and Tyler.

“Everyone’s down. Everyone’s feeling the pains and the impacts of coronavirus, so we just wanted to be able to offer something good for people to do,” Spears said.

Colleen Horan, field recruitment consultant for Carter Bloodcare, told NBC 5 they normally see about 1,000 donors per day. This has not been the case recently, as they expect a shortage of about 5,000 units of blood over the next few weeks.

“We are having blood drives cancel left and right. One of the biggest suppliers of blood drives for us are high schools and colleges," Horan said. "About 25 percent of the total blood supply come those two groups and a course, school’s out so we’ve had all of those cancellations. On top of that businesses and churches and congregations are gone."

Closures of schools, universities, and businesses due to coronavirus spread have resulted in at least 4,000 canceled blood drives across the country and a dramatic drop in blood donations, according to Carter Bloodcare.

“Before this happened, the hospitals in the area were already full of people that were sick with cancer, and blood disorders, trauma victims, burn victims. That need blood products and that will continue on top of the coronavirus,” Horan explained.

Vince Cole of Bedford said he felt compelled to help by donating blood on Friday.

“Whenever you’ve got things like this like what we’re going through right now, it always winds up with a blood shortage. People need to get out and do their part,” Cole said. “If I don’t go, the next person may not go. Maybe they’ll see me now on TV and somebody else will come tomorrow.”

Donor beds at the drive held at the 81 Club were spaced out Friday as recommended for social distancing. At a time of uncertainty, organizers say it’s also a time for community and taking care of one another.

“This is one of those situations where it’s not one individual. It’s not one isolated,” Spears said. “We truly are in this together, and we’ll have to come out this together.”

The next blood drives will be held Saturday and Sunday at the 81 Club at Billy Bob's Texas on 2520 Rodeo Plaza in Fort Worth. It will begin at 9 a.m. and end at 3 p.m.

Organizers say appointments are strongly encouraged to help manage the flow and avoid crowding. Walk-in appointments will be accepted, but extra precautions will be put in place. 

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