Is It Safe to Donate Blood During COVID-19 Outbreak?

March 27, 2020

Clinical Contributors to this Story

Elliot Frank, M.D. contributes to topics such as Infectious Disease.

As COVID-19 spreads across the country, there has been a dramatic drop in blood donations

The nation’s blood supply requires a steady supply of donors who generously donate millions of units of blood and blood components each year. Every two seconds, a patient needs a blood transfusion, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). 

“Making sure that blood donations continue is a critical part of ensuring our community health,” says Elliot Frank, M.D., an infectious disease specialist and medical director of quality and outcomes at Jersey Shore University Medical Center.

Is Donating Blood Safe Right Now?

There is no evidence that COVID-19 can be transmitted by blood transfusion, and there have been no reported cases worldwide of transmissions for any respiratory virus including COVID-19, according to the American Red Cross. 

Blood donation centers can facilitate blood donations safely because they are specially trained in infection prevention. Centers also already take steps to ensure that staff and donors who aren’t feeling well don’t reach the donor area. Many are practicing additional social distancing and enhanced cleaning policies.

“It’s still safe to go out and donate blood,” says Dr. Frank. “Giving blood right now is one of the safest ways to get involved in helping the nation’s response to COVID-19.”

What Steps Can You Take to Be Safe?

Blood donation centers will only collect blood from donors who are healthy and feeling well at the time of donation – and who meet other eligibility requirements. To ensure staff are healthy each day many centers, including those held at Hackensack Meridian Health facilities, have implemented standard staff health assessments prior to all blood drives.

Here are some other things you can do to stay safe while donating blood:

  • Keep 6 feet between you and all other persons in waiting and donor areas.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. 
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. 
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Bring your own blanket to the donation center and launder after use.

Next Steps & Resources:

The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.