Blood providers have been preparing for this and have worked at the federal level with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. These proactive steps have led to blood centers and blood donors being recognized as essential critical infrastructure in our response to COVID-19.
Please refer to the Guidance Document from the US Department of Homeland Security specifically highlighting the importance of blood centers, blood donors and blood donation to healthcare and public health.
- Illinois Stay at Home: Click here for full list of essential activities, government functions and business operations defined by the state of Illinois.
Healthy individuals are needed now and in the next few months to donate blood for patients. Donors who have received the COVID-19 vaccination are eligible to donate ALL blood products with no deferral period. The following criteria applies ONLY to donors wishing to donate convalescent plasma:
- Had symptoms of COVID-19 and a positive test result from a diagnostic test approved, cleared, or authorized by FDA AND
- Received the COVID-19 vaccine AFTER diagnosis of COVID-19, AND
- Are within 6 months after complete resolution of COVID-19 symptoms.
Please note: Diagnosis of COVID-19 AFTER vaccination DOES defer donors from giving convalescent plasma. For additional questions regarding eligibility, click here.
Blood donation is safe! Blood drives and donor centers are safe environments where staff and donors are screened to be sure they are healthy and well and have not been exposed to the virus to be present.
It’s the blood on the shelf from regular donors that saves lives. Blood is a critical resource for patients and the blood center must maintain 24/7 operations during this Pandemic to ensure life-saving treatment can continue.
Blood has a short shelf life and must be constantly replenished. Red blood cells must be transfused within 42 days, while platelets and thawed plasma must be transfused within 5 days. We must rely on volunteers to continue to donate blood and to continue to host blood drives in our communities in order ensure hospitals and patients have what they need.
The Blood Center is requiring appointments to ensure health and safety protocols and to balance blood inventories in the weeks and months to come.
- 60% of the blood supply comes from mobile blood drive events.
- Individuals are being asked to make appointments so they present to donate at staggered times. Donors are processed separately through a safe and controlled environment.
- We are practicing 6ft of distance between staff and between donors as much as possible, some essential contact is required between staff and donors during the process.
- Blood Center Staff are following protocol to ensure health and safety are maintained. Refer to this section below.
The blood supply is safe! There is no evidence this virus (SARS-CoV-2) can be transmitted by a transfusion, nor has there been with the two related viruses, SARS-1 and MERS-CoV that have caused epidemics since 2000.
Staff and volunteers should stay home if they are not feeling well or if they have been exposed to someone who is being tested or has tested positive for COVID-19.
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To prevent the spread of COVID-19, influenza, and other viral infections, we join the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in recommending the following common-sense measures:
- Wash hands frequently with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, and avoid hand to face contact, a primary mechanism of transmission;
- Clean work surfaces in accordance with established infection control procedures;
- Avoid close contact (within about 6 feet) with those who are ill;
- Self-quarantine after caring for someone who is sick;
- Stay home when experiencing symptoms of illness; and
- Use good cough etiquette; cover mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing and avoid touching eyes, nose, or mouth.
NOTICE TO DONORS
DO NOT GIVE BLOOD IF:
- you have been diagnosed with COVID-19 UNTIL 28 days after your recovery (no fever, cough or other respiratory symptoms and no need for oxygen);
- you are waiting for a test result for COVID-19. If it is negative and you are well you may donate. If it is positive you must wait 28 days from your testing date and be well;
- in the last 14 days you have been within six feet of someone who has the virus or is being tested for the virus for greater than 15 minutes without use of personal protective equipment;
- you have fever, cough, or shortness of breath.
If you decide not to donate because of this information, please call us at 800-747-5401 or text us at 999-777. We will determine when you will be able to give blood.
What we are doing to keep staff, volunteers and donors safe
We have implemented our Disaster Plan and are following recommendations from local, state and federal health agencies to keep staff and visitors safe. Blood collection locations have always been regulated for health and safety and we are increasing communication with our teams as well as resources and instructions for cleaning to avoid the spread of COVID-19.
- We are following the Center for Disease Control Guidelines for Blood and Plasma Collection. See more about the guidance here.
- Blood donation events are essential healthcare services per the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and should continue even if Stay at Home orders are put in place by local and state governments. This exemption includes blood drive host locations, blood collection staff and volunteers and blood donors.
- We have implemented our own disaster response plan and are keeping staff up to date with what we know. We are sending communication regularly to staff and volunteers to keep them informed and have implemented working remotely as much as possible while maintaining continuous operations.
- Signs are being posted at all facilities and collection events asking people not to present to blood drives, to centers or to work if they are not feeling well or if they have been exposed to someone with COVID-19. We are asking these screening questions when scheduling donors over the phone as well.
- Only donors, volunteers and staff members allowed to enter our facilities for health and safety purposes.
- We have reiterated our existing protocol for keeping environments safe and healthy for workers and donors and are expanding upon existing cleaning and health hygiene practices.
- Donor Services staff are required to change gloves and sanitize hands between donors. Wipe down beds with disinfectant between donors.
- Hand sanitizer must be available at all stations at blood collection events for staff and donors.
- Staff at collection events and all facilities are being asked to frequently clean high-touch surfaces.
- Staff are distancing donors throughout the process.
- We are asking to donors to make appointments to ensure health and safety protocols and to balance blood inventories in the weeks and months to come.
- DONORS AND STAFF ARE NOW REQUIRED TO WEAR CLOTH FACE COVERINGS. If donors do not have a face covering, they will be provided with one when they arrive for their donation.
Are we testing blood donations for COVID-19?
There are no donor screening tests available for this virus. All donors are screened for symptoms of illness prior to donation. There is no evidence this virus (SARS-CoV-2) can be transmitted by a transfusion, nor has there been with the two related viruses, SARS-1 and MERS-CoV that have caused epidemics since 2000.
- In our pre-donation Medical History Questionnaire, we ask “Are you feeling healthy and well today?”
- In our pre-donation mini-physical, we assess the donor’s body temperature, blood pressure, heart rate, and hemoglobin level
Donors who aren’t feeling well or exhibit symptoms of respiratory illness are asked not to present and are deferred from donation.
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