FAQ: Coronavirus and Blood Donation
RIBC 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, RIBC strongly urges individuals who feel healthy and well to make an appointment at a donor center to give blood, platelets and plasma. Appointments help us manage the flow of donors to ensure proper distancing and maintain a steady blood supply for patients.
RIBC is committed to the safety of our donors, volunteers, employees and blood recipients, and to transparency with the American 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 it. Our blood collection sites are disinfected frequently, and we are taking extra precautions to help prevent the person-to-person spread of COVID-19 as per CDC recommendations. These are some of the measures we are taking to keep staff and donors safe:
These are some of the ways we are keeping donors and staff safe:
- Requiring all staff to take their temperature before coming to work.
- Requiring staff who have Coronavirus related symptoms to notify their supervisor and remain out of work until they have been cleared by Human Resources to return.
- Taking temperatures of all donors/vendors upon entering our centers.
- Restricting visitors to donors and essential personnel/vendors.
- Asking all donors/visitors to bring a face covering or face mask when they present to donate.
- Asking all donors/visitors upon entering if they have had close contact with someone diagnosed with or suspected of having Coronavirus within the last 14 days.
- Asking all donors/visitors upon entering if they have been diagnosed or suspected of having Coronavirus within the last 14 days.
- Spacing chairs in our reception, donation, and refreshment areas to be 6 feet apart.
- Installing clear barriers at our registration areas.
- Promoting a handshake free zone.
- Providing new, unused pens to each donor for the pre-screening questionnaire.
- Disinfecting donor clipboards and chairs after every use.
- Regularly and frequently disinfecting high touch surfaces, including:
- door handles, sink handles, chairs, tables, and other items in registration, interview rooms, donation, and refreshment areas.
- Reminding people to practice social distancing as much as possible while at the center.
- Requesting donors book appointments and limiting visitors to the center.
- Expanded donation center days and hours of operations to spread out donor appointments as much as possible.
- Increased professional cleaning services to include the expanded center days and hours.
Please note, we are following the current CDC and Rhode Island Department of Health guidelines on the use of face masks and will continue to monitor and comply with evolving guidelines.
Donating blood is not considered a social gathering limited to five or fewer people per space. FEMA designates blood centers as essential to patient care and emergency preparedness.
RIBC only collects blood from individuals who are healthy and feeling well at the time of donation – and who meet other eligibility requirements.
To protect our staff and donors, RIBC is asking donors to self-screen before coming in to donate. Please do not present to donate if you have:
- a fever or other symptoms of COVID-19 (cough, shortness of breath, or difficulty breathing)
- had close contact with someone diagnosed with or suspected of having COVID-19 in the last 14 days
- been diagnosed with or suspected of having COVID-19 until 14 days after your illness has resolved
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 our medical team via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or 401-453-8307.
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.
Frequently Asked Questions
- How does RIBC determine if people are eligible to donate blood?
We ask if you are feeling well and healthy 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.
- Are face masks being worn by donors and donor center staff?
Yes, the CDC has updated their recommendations on face masks. 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.
- 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.
- What measures are being taken to make sure donor centers are virus-free?
We ask blood donors and our own staff to stay home if they are not feeling well. Our blood collection sites are disinfected frequently, and we are taking extra precautions to help prevent the person-to-person spread of COVID-19 as per CDC recommendations.
- What is RIBC doing in response to Coronavirus?
We are actively monitoring the situation along with our local partners and will follow the most up to date guidance from the CDC and City and State Departments 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.
- Can I catch Coronavirus by donating blood?
No. Donating blood is safe. We always use new, sterile needles that are discarded after use.
- What about social distancing? How can we donate at a center if we are supposed to stay home?
Giving blood, platelets or plasma at a donor center or blood drive is not considered a public or social gathering. Blood donation is an essential part of patient care and emergency preparedness. Our donor spaces are a controlled environment, filled with staff members who are trained to help prevent the risk of spreading infectious agents. Our blood collection sites are disinfected frequently, and we are taking extra precautions to help prevent the person-to-person spread of COVID-19 as per CDC recommendations.
- 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.
We do NOT test for COVID-19. Please contact your health care provider if you want to be tested.
- Can you catch Coronavirus from a blood transfusion?
There is no evidence that coronaviruses are transmitted by blood transfusion. Furthermore, pre-donation screening procedures are designed to prevent donations from people who are experiencing symptoms of respiratory illnesses.
- Why is it important to donate now?
It’s important for everyone to donate today so that we can build up a strong blood supply. Blood is a critical component of patient care and 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?
If future blood drives are canceled, our community’s blood supply will drop. We need 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 Coronavirus?
Standard practices for cold and flu season are the best way to keep our community healthy. This includes staying home when you’re sick, frequently washing your hands or using alcohol-based hand sanitizers, covering your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing with your elbow, and avoiding touching your eyes, nose or face after touching public surfaces. Visit this link for videos and reminders on proper hand hygiene.
- Can I donate blood while I’m sick?
No, as always, you are not eligible to donate if you’re experiencing a fever, cold, sore throat, respiratory infection or flu-like symptoms.
- Can I catch the virus from another donor at a donor center or blood drive?
First, we ask blood donors and our own staff to stay home if they are not feeling well. Our staff are trained in universal precautions to help prevent the risk of spreading infectious agents. We are also regularly cleaning public surfaces. Second, we encourage healthy individuals to donate so that blood is available for those patients who need it. Our blood collection sites are disinfected frequently, and we are taking extra precautions to help prevent the person-to-person spread of COVID-19 as per CDC recommendations. We screen our donors for infectious disease risks and let donors know in advance that they should not come to the blood collection site to donate if they have a fever or other symptoms of COVID-19 (cough, shortness of breath, or difficulty breathing), have had close contact with someone diagnosed with or suspected of having COVID-19 in the last 14 days, or been diagnosed with or suspected of having COVID-19 until 14 days after the illness has resolved.
- Can I bring my child, friend or family with me when I donate?
Normally, we welcome donors to bring a family member or friend even if they are not donating. Right now, we are asking that only donors come into the centers as we are trying to manage the space between donors.
- Will giving blood weaken my immune system?
There is no evidence blood donation weakens the immune system. Blood donation is needed to keep the supply available to patients who need it. To best prepare for your donation get sleep, eat a good meal, and drink fluids. Visit https://www.ribc.org/prep for more information on preparing for your blood donation.
Make an Appointment
To support the critical need for blood, platelets and plasma, we have extended our donor center operating hours until further notice. Find a convenient donor center near you!
When you present to donate at your local donor center, if you are concerned about waiting for your appointment inside and would prefer to wait outside or in your vehicle, please see our staff and we can take your cell phone number and call or text you when we are ready to see you.
Download your donor letter outlining the permission for you to travel to a donor center to give blood, platelets and plasma during this time.