Memorial Blood Centers (MBC) is closely monitoring the outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and continues to carry out our lifesaving mission in our communities. To ensure we are prepared to support health agencies in our communities and across the country, MBC strongly urges individuals who feel healthy and well to make an appointment to give blood, platelets, and plasma.
At this time, appointments are preferred. To remain in compliance with federal guidelines for social distancing, we are asking donors to please schedule appointments. Walk-in donors may be accommodated based on capacity.
Please note: All donors, visitors, and staff are required to wear a face mask or face covering. When presenting to donate, donors are asked to bring a face mask or face covering.
MBC is committed to the safety of our donors, volunteers, employees and blood recipients, and to transparency with the public during this evolving public health emergency.
There is no data or evidence that this coronavirus can be transmitted by blood transfusion. In fact, there have been no reported cases of transfusion-transmission for any respiratory virus, including this coronavirus.
It is safe to donate blood, and we encourage healthy individuals to donate so that blood is available for those patients who need. Our blood collection sites are disinfected frequently, and we are taking extra precautions to help prevent the person-to-person spread of COVID-19 per CDC recommendations. We are also performing temperature checks on all staff members and donors upon arrival.
MBC only collects blood from individuals who are healthy and feeling well at the time of donation – and who meet other eligibility guidelines.
To protect our staff and donors, MBC is asking donors to self-screen before coming in to donate. Please do not present to donate if you:
- have experienced symptoms of COVID-19 in the last 14 days, such as fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing
- have had a positive COVID-19 diagnostic test (nasal swab test) in the last 14 days
- are currently on self-quarantine restrictions
If you are unsure whether to donate, or if you have donated recently and you develop symptoms of COVID-19 or you test positive for COVID-19, please contact us at 888-448-3253.
Please be aware that we do NOT test for COVID-19. You should contact your health care provider if you want to be tested.
If you are feeling healthy and well and meet general eligibility guidelines, please schedule your donation now to help ensure a stable blood supply amid coronavirus concerns.
Tools for blood donors during the stay-at-home order
Based on information from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), we have prepared a letter indicating that your role as a blood donor makes travel to your donation appointment essential to our emergency preparedness. You can access this letter here, and show it should you be asked.
Plus, when you complete your iDonate health history questionnaire in advance, your receipt will also indicate you are an Emergency Blood Donor.
Valid as of June 15, 2020.
Coronavirus Blood Donor FAQ
- What is MBC doing in response to coronavirus disease (COVID-19)?
We are actively monitoring the situation along with our local partners and will follow the most up to date guidance from the CDC and State Department of Health as the situation evolves. We take the health of our donors and staff very seriously and always follow strict guidelines to prevent the spread of infection.
Many precautions and social distancing measures are being taken at donation sites, including frequent cleaning in between donor appointments, restricted access, and temperature checks.
- What additional measures are being taken at donor centers and drives?
In order to ensure a safe, controlled donation environment, social distancing guidelines and additional cleaning protocols are in effect at all donation sites. We ask blood donors and staff to stay home if they are not feeling well, and are performing temperature checks of staff and donors upon arrival. We are asking donors to schedule appointments ahead of time rather than walking in to donate, spacing out donor beds and limiting the number of people on bloodmobiles, and encouraging donors to wait in their cars prior to their appointments instead of in waiting areas. Hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes are also available at all locations.
All donors and staff are required to wear a face mask or covering, and donors are asked to bring a covering to their appointment.
- How does MBC determine if people are eligible to donate blood?
We ask if you are feeling healthy and well on the day of donation. Our health questionnaire and laboratory screening are designed to identify donors who may be at risk for transfusion transmitted infections. We are also checking donor and stafff temperatures upon arrival. In addition, our standard mini-physical prior to each donation includes taking the donor’s temperature to prevent donations from individuals showing symptoms of an illness.
- Can I catch COVID-19 by donating blood?
No. Donating blood is safe. We always use new, sterile needles that are discarded after use.
- Can I donate blood if I've traveled recently?
We currently ask each donor about recent travel to regions where there is a higher risk for transfusion transmitted infections such as malaria and CJD. FDA has not established this same kind of requirement for the coronavirus since it is not known to be transmitted by blood. However, individuals who are told by public health officials to self-quarantine due to travel-related coronavirus exposure should not donate blood while they are in quarantine status. This is for the protection of our staff and other blood donors.
- Do you test blood before it goes to recipients?
All donated blood, even donations from repeat donors, is tested for blood type, hepatitis, HIV, syphilis, and other transfusion transmissible diseases.
- Is MBC testing donors for COVID-19?
MBC is not currently testing all donors for COVID-19 or COVID-19 antibodies. At this time, we only test convalescent plasma donors who have a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis; these donors are tested for COVID-19 antibodies, to ensure that their donations will help current patients with COVID-19. We are evaluating the logistics and potential benefits of performing an antibody test on every donor.
MBC is closely monitoring the science pertaining to COVID-19 antibody testing, especially as it directly relates to our efforts to collect convalescent plasma. Our priority is the safety of the blood supply, of our donors, recipients, and team members. We want to make sure that widespread antibody testing for donors will provide reliable results and benefits for our donors. There is no evidence that COVID-19 has been spread through transfusion, and too little is known about COVID-19’s immune response and whether having antibodies truly means that you are immune to future infections. We already perform more than a dozen FDA-licensed and required tests on every blood donation; the FDA has not recommended that blood centers test for COVID-19 and trusted sources such as CDC and WHO currently do not recommend widespread antibody testing. These sources caution against using antibody testing to guide recommendations about day-to-day activities for individuals, such as whether a person might pose less of a risk to those they come in contact with.
- Where can I get COVID-19 testing?
We recommend consulting your health care provider if you are interested in COVID-19 testing. There may also be “drive-through” testing options available in your area.
- Can you catch COVID-19 from a blood transfusion?
There is no evidence that coronaviruses are transmissible by blood transfusion. Furthermore, pre-donation screening procedures are designed to prevent donations from people with symptoms of respiratory illnesses.
- Why is it important to donate now?
It’s important for eligible blood and platelet donors to give today so that we can build up a strong blood supply. Blood is a critical component of emergency preparedness because it’s perishable and the supply must be constantly replenished. The blood that’s on the shelf now is the blood that will save lives if there’s an emergency.
- Will we run out of blood?
It is important for healthy donors to donate now to build up our reserves now so that we have enough blood available to withstand any temporary shortages and help those in need.
- What can I do to protect myself from COVID-19?
Standard practices for cold and flu season are the best way to keep you and our community healthy. This includes staying home when you’re sick, frequently washing your hands, covering your mouth and nose with a tissue or your upper sleeve when coughing and sneezing, and avoiding touching your eyes, nose, or face after touching public surfaces. Visit the CDC website for reminders of proper hand hygiene.
- Are face masks being worn by donors and donor center staff?
Yes, all donors, visitors, and staff are required to wear a face mask or face covering according to CDC recommendations. Donors are asked to bring a face mask or covering.
Although we make sure individuals are not sick when they come to work or come to donate, we now know that individuals can transmit the virus to others even when they are not sick. With this new evidence, CDC recommends wearing clean cloth face coverings in public settings, such as the donor room, especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.
- I have recovered from COVID-19 and want to donate plasma. What should I do?
Thank you for your interest in convalescent plasma donation
and joining our mission to save lives. While there is no proven treatment, it is possible that convalescent plasma, which has antibodies against the virus, could help patients with serious or life-threatening infections. Memorial Blood Centers will collect, process, and maintain a supply of convalescent plasma for hospitals. We are asking eligible donors to come forward so we can help treat as many patients as possible. Donors may be eligible to give convalescent plasma if they have had a positive test and have been symptom-free for at least 14 days. You can get started by completing a donation request form. All information provided will be kept confidential and will only be used to qualify you as a donor.