Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker and first lady Lauren Baker visited a Red Cross donation center in Dedham Saturday to donate blood and call for the public to do the same.
Their visit comes amid nationwide calls for blood during the deadly coronavirus crisis, despite the need for social distancing.
Baker said that due to the closure of schools and other public centers, many blood drives have also been suspended.
Nationwide, 300,000 units of blood have gone uncollected, according to a spokesperson for the Red Cross. One person's blood donation can save up to three lives.
In Massachusetts, donating would ensure there is a sufficient blood supply in hospitals across the Commonwealth, Baker said.
"Especially given the amount of time that most of us now have on our hands, to incorporate this into your day," said Baker.
Baker's press conference was his first appearance since Massachusetts' public health commissioner Monica Bharel announced she's tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, on Friday.
Baker called Bharel a "rabid distancer," suggesting she is following the proper protocol of social distancing. Baker says he hasn’t been in the same room with Bharel for about a week.
"She was one of those people who did a really good job distancing herself from others," Baker said.
Baker said he does not plan to be tested because he has not displayed any symptoms. Baker said when he entered the donation center on Saturday, his temperature was 97.7.
Lauren Baker serves on the board of the American Red Cross of Massachusetts and has advocated for blood donations in the past.
"Don't be afraid," Lauren Baker said Saturday. "Please make an appointment."
The American Red Cross is actively seeking blood donations during the coronavirus pandemic, noting that donation drives have been canceled but the many patients hospitalized with COVID-19 may need blood throughout weeks of treatment.
Last week, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams asked Americans to donate blood during the coronavirus crisis, even given the social distancing measures he and many other officials are urging Americans to practice.
"Blood centers are open now and in need of your donation. I want America to know that blood donation is safe and blood centers are taking extra precautions at this time based on new CDC recommendations" on social distancing, he said at a White House briefing.
Thousands of people in Massachusetts have been diagnosed with the new coronavirus, with 35 of them dead as of Friday. Officials expect those numbers to rise in the coming days and weeks, though drastic measures like shutting schools and a stay-at-home order are meant to stem that tide by keeping the virus from spreading faster.
Baker has explained that doing that will keep hospitals from being overrun by coronavirus patients and doctors from having to choose which patients to save, as their counterparts in hard-hit places like Italy have had to do.
Baker's latest measure to check the spread of the new coronavirus came Friday. He asked anyone traveling into Massachusetts to quarantine for 14 days, which is roughly how long it takes the symptoms of COVID-19 to appear.
Other parts of the country, especially New York City, have been hit harder than Boston and it's possible that visitors from elsewhere could spread the virus in Massachusetts if they don't adhere to strict social distancing rules.