TOLEDO, Ohio — If you're planning to donate blood anytime soon, you will also have the opportunity to see if you've been exposed to COVID-19. The Red Cross is now testing all blood, platelet and plasma donations for COVID-19 antibodies.
"There are so many public health organizations that are doing research about coronavirus and this will allow us to hopefully get involved and give a little information as needed for what it's doing in our communities and the donors that we see," American Red Cross spokesperson Christy Peters said.
While swab testing opportunities are available to anyone in Ohio, antibody tests are not as easy to get. Antibodies show if you have been exposed to COVID-19, even if you were asymptomatic.
"We know that somewhere around 25% or more people don't have any symptoms at all," ProMedica emergency room Dr. Brian Kaminski said.
If someone tests positive for coronavirus antibodies, their blood can still be donated because COVID-19 is a respiratory illness and cannot be passed off in a blood transfusion.
Additionally, as hospitals resume normal operations, the need for blood increases. Officials with the Red Cross estimate the need for blood has gone up by about 30% over the past few weeks. They're hoping the incentive for antibody results may encourage people to donate.
"We had to cancel several, thousands of blood drives across the country at the start of the pandemic. We did put out a call for more donors and saw a wonderful response. Unfortunately, we have seen a bit of a decline in the past couple of weeks," Peters said.
Those who donate blood will get their antibody results in about 7 to 10 business days. You can learn more information here.