At each blood drive and donation center, Red Cross employees follow thorough safety protocols including wearing gloves, routinely wiping down donor-touched areas, using sterile collection sets for every donation, and preparing the arm for donation with an aseptic scrub. We have also increased our vigilance concerning some of these safety protocols including enhanced disinfecting of equipment and changing staff gloves between each donor. Red Cross employees are trained in universal precautions to help prevent the spread of any type of infection.
To ensure our staff are healthy each day, we have implemented standard staff health assessments prior to all blood drives to ensure staff are feeling well the day of the drive. We ask all of those at a donation site – both staff and donors – to use hand sanitizer before entering and throughout the facility or drive as needed.
At your next donation appointment, you will notice trained staff starting to take temperature checks of presenting donors before they enter the blood drive or donation center. As you may know, it is standard to take the temperature of all donors during the health screening process, but out of an abundance of caution for our staff and donors, we are implementing an additional step in the donation process to reduce the risk of anyone feeling unwell entering the donation site.
The Red Cross also implemented blood donation deferrals and asks all individuals who have traveled to China and its special administrative regions, Hong Kong and Macau, as well as Iran, Italy or South Korea to postpone donating until 28 days following return to the U.S. Individuals who have had contact with a person who has the virus, or someone suspected to have it, are also required to postpone donating until 28 days since having contact.
Finally, only eligible and healthy people are allowed to give blood. Every donor undergoes a mini-physical to help ensure they are healthy and well on the day of their donation. These mitigation measures will help ensure staff and donor safety in reducing contact with those who may potentially have this, or any, respiratory infection.
There is no evidence that this coronavirus can be transmitted by blood transfusion, and there have been no reported cases of transfusion transmission for any respiratory virus including this coronavirus worldwide. Nevertheless, the Red Cross is actively discouraging anyone who may have been exposed to the virus to postpone their donation for 28 days and only come out to give if they are feeling healthy and well.
We invite you to visit RedCrossBlood.org/COVID19 to learn more about blood donation and the safeguards in place to protect patients, donors, and our broader communities.
If you’re eligible and feeling well, please don’t hesitate to sign up for an appointment. Fewer donors are coming out to give amidst growing coronavirus concerns, yet the need for blood and blood products by patients continues. Please help prevent shortages by making an appointment today.
Chris Hrouda serves as president of Red Cross Biomedical Services. Blood drive locations and hours are subject to change. Visit RedCrossBlood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).