After closing its doors to customers two weeks ago, the Mall of America on Tuesday announced plans to host a series of American Red Cross Blood drives beginning April 7.
The mall will host the drives in its North Atrium; the rest of the shopping center remains closed. The blood drives are slated to take place on April 7, 8, 17 and 18. No businesses will reopen during the drives, though a few have been providing delivery services.
“The coronavirus outbreak caused the cancellations of thousands of blood drives across the country, leading the Red Cross to reach out to partners with enough space to host new blood drives,” MOA officials said in a media advisory.
The Red Cross will take donations on an appointment-only basis. To register, visit the organization's website.
Mall officials say there’s enough open space in the North Atrium to continue social distancing. In addition, Red Cross staff will check donors temperatures before they enter the mall. Red Cross staffers also will wear gloves and other protective equipment — items that are otherwise in short supply across the nation as health systems struggle to keep up with an influx of patients.
During a March 20 press briefing, Gov. Tim Walz floated the possibility of using the mall as an overflow area during the Covid-19 pandemic. The 5.6-million-square-foot mall has “lots of open space” that could be converted “into whatever we need in an emergency,” Walz said. State officials have said they’re exploring several other sites for overflow space, though they haven’t landed on any specific places quite yet.
Meanwhile, Rosedale Center has offered its space to local social service organizations and government agencies, marketing director Sarah Fossen said, suggesting the central areas of the Roseville mall could be used to store and distribute emergency medical supplies or food. The vacant Herberger’s department store space has its own loading dock, which Fossen suggested could help for drive-up testing. “Rosedale is invested in, and part of the community. We want to help.”
“We are working on a potential blood drive and it is being reviewed by government agencies right now,” Fossen said in an email on Tuesday morning.
Ridgedale Center is also looking at ways its space could be made useful right now, a spokesman said. As of Tuesday, no details had been finalized.