Locations:
Search IconSearch

Is It Still Safe to Donate Blood During the Coronavirus Pandemic?

Safety protocols for donation amid coronavirus

Blood donating during COVID-19

With stay-at-home orders in place for many states, businesses in every industry are feeling the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This is especially true for blood collection organizations, like the American Red Cross and other independent agencies.

Advertisement

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

An unprecedented number of blood drives were canceled during the first few weeks of the coronavirus outbreak, as colleges and companies shut down. All of the cancelations and closings resulted in a severe need for blood donations.

Blood donation is essential for hospitals to be able to take care of those who need it. The demand for blood products (blood, platelets and plasma) is constant, even when the world isn’t in the midst of a global pandemic.

The shortage and need for blood has left many wondering if it’s still safe to donate, despite COVID-19.

Safety measures to protect donors + workers

“It’s crucial for people to continue to donate blood right now so that hospitals have an adequate supply to help those who need it,” says infectious disease specialist Frank Esper, MD. “Blood collection agencies are absolutely adhering to good social distancing practices and have the donor’s safety at the forefront.”

So what’s being done at blood drives to protect the donors and workers?

  • Donors and staff are required to wear face masks at all blood drives or donation centers. Donors are encouraged to bring their own face covering, but the Red Cross will provide one if need be. (If a donor does not want to wear a face mask, they’ll be asked to postpone their donation for another time.)
  • Temperature checks are required for staff and donors.
  • Hands sanitizer is provided throughout the donation process.
  • Beds, furniture and other equipment are all spaced out to follow social distancing practices.
  • There is increased disinfecting of all surfaces touched by staff and donors.

Healthy people can still donate – even during stay-at-home orders

Currently there is no data or evidence that the coronavirus can be transmitted by blood transfusion.

Blood donation agencies are committed to the highest standard of safety and infection control to keep healthy donors just that – healthy.

Even in areas that have been issued stay-at-home or shelter in place orders, you can still leave your home to go donate blood.

How often can you donate?

  • Whole blood donation – every 8 weeks (56 days).
  • Power red donation – every 16 weeks (112 days).
  • Platelet donation – every 7 days, up to 12 times per year.

Is it true that you get tested for COVID-19 when you donate?

Unfortunately, a myth about getting tested for COVID-19 at donation sites has been circling around.

Advertisement

Your temperature will be checked and you’ll be screened verbally for symptoms, but you will not be tested for COVID-19 when you donate blood.

You’ll be asked about symptoms and signs of infection. And you’ll be asked if you’ve been around anyone else who may have a viral infection — and if you have, you’ll be asked not to donate at that time.

“Unfortunately we just don’t have enough tests out there right now,” says Dr. Esper. “So no, you will not get a nose or throat swab when you go to donate blood.”

A way to give back + contribute

With many people cooped up inside and wondering what to do or how to help, donating blood is a great contribution, says Dr. Esper.

People still have cancer and need blood. Car accidents are still happening. People still need blood for reasons that don’t have anything to do with the coronavirus.

So if you’re wondering how you can help during the pandemic — donate blood if you’re healthy and eligible.

Find a blood drive near you.

Advertisement

Learn more about our editorial process.

Related Articles

test tubes filled with blood
May 4, 2022/Uncategorized
What Color Is Your Blood?

Your veins might look blue, but that’s not the color of the blood flowing inside

A sign that says COVID-19 Vaccine and an arrow pointing to the right
April 27, 2021/Infectious Disease
When Should You Get Vaccinated if You’ve Had COVID-19?

If you've had COVID-19, you may think you don't need to be vaccinated. Think again.

blood sugar and PCOS
September 15, 2020/Diabetes & Endocrinology
Controlling Your Blood Sugar Can Improve Your PCOS and Hormone Imbalance

How these lifestyle changes may help restore insulin sensitivity

child getting vaccinated
May 18, 2020/Children's Health
Why Your Kids Should Still Get Vaccinated During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Don't lose sight of the other health threats children face

Father squirts antibacterial hand sanitizer in daughter's hands.
May 13, 2020/Infectious Disease
How Easy Is It to Transmit Coronavirus?

The short answer from experts

Lemon water
April 21, 2020/Infectious Disease
Can Drinking Lemon Juice Kill Coronavirus?

The short answer from an infectious disease specialist

Man getting a shot to help against pneumonia
April 19, 2020/Infectious Disease
Can the Pneumonia Shot Protect Me From Getting COVID-19?

The short answer from an infectious disease specialist

Trending Topics

Female and friend jogging outside
How To Increase Your Metabolism for Weight Loss

Focus on your body’s metabolic set point by eating healthy foods, making exercise a part of your routine and reducing stress

stovetop with stainless steel cookware and glassware
5 Ways Forever Chemicals (PFAS) May Affect Your Health

PFAS chemicals may make life easier — but they aren’t always so easy on the human body

jar of rice water and brush, with rice scattered around table
Could Rice Water Be the Secret To Healthier Hair?

While there’s little risk in trying this hair care treatment, there isn’t much science to back up the claims

Ad