Red Cross spokesman Joe Zydlo says the tests will let donors know if they have been exposed to coronavirus, plus, it’s another way to encourage people to donate a pint. Zydlo says, “There continues to be an urgent need for blood donations as our hospital partners resume surgeries and treatments that require blood products.”
The FDA-authorized tests will run until further notice. Donors are expected to learn the results in seven-to-ten days. Zydlo says Red Cross chapters have received several calls from people who reported coronavirus symptoms but never took a test.
“I think this gives people peace of mind, but it’s also a sort of two-way street,” he says. “Number one, they can help by donating blood right now when we have an urgent need. Blood drives continue to be canceled. Hospitals are doing more procedures and surgeries. They’re going to need more blood. More people are on the roads. There could be more of a chance of trauma situations.”
Zydlo says the testing will let donors know if they have the antibodies in their bloodstream. “If they have those in their plasma and they want to come back in and maybe donate some plasma to help COVID-19 patients recover, or they may not have it. But at least it gives them peace of mind,” he says. If you don’t feel well, postpone donating blood. If you think you might have COVID-19, wait until you’re symptom-free for at least 28 days and feeling well before making a donation.
Zydlo says it’s important to note, the Red Cross is not testing donors to diagnose illness, referred to as a diagnostic test. Also, a positive antibody test results does not confirm infection or immunity, but it does indicate potential exposure to the virus.