Millions of us wonder if we’ve been exposed to the coronavirus without knowing it. Now, the American Red Cross is offering an easy way to find out.
When you donate blood, platelets or plasma, the Red Cross will test your blood for the presence of coronavirus antibodies, which form when the body fights infections such as COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.
Such testing can tell you whether you have had a coronavirus infection in the past — which in turn can indicate that you have potentially developed at least temporary immunity or resistance to the virus.
The Red Cross will test all donations between now and at least January. The Red Cross says it will decide whether to extend the policy past January based on how the pandemic progresses.
The Red Cross says donors will receive news about their antibody status about seven to 10 days after they donate.
While a donation can help you get valuable information about your own health, it also can save the lives of others.
The blood supply in the U.S. is critically low, with most blood centers reporting “significant declines in their blood collections,” according to a joint statement issued Oct. 19 by the Red Cross and two other organizations:
“As the nation confronts new surges of COVID-19 cases, AABB, America’s Blood Centers and the American Red Cross are joining together to urge eligible individuals to make and keep an appointment to donate blood now. Since the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, the blood community has experienced unprecedented fluctuations in both supply and the need for blood. A variety of events — including wildfires in the western states, recent hurricanes and other storms — have led to additional disruptions to the collection of blood …”
There also is an increasing need for blood donations due to hospitals returning to normal surgery schedules.
If you would like to donate, you can schedule an appointment by:
- Visiting the Red Cross website
- Using the Red Cross Blood Donor App
- Calling 1-800-RED-CROSS
- Using the Red Cross skill for Amazon Alexa
The Red Cross emphasizes that it is testing for antibodies, which indicate a previous infection. It is not testing donors to diagnose current illness. If you do not feel well, the Red Cross urges you to postpone any donation appointment until you feel better.
If you don’t feel comfortable giving blood, there are other ways to receive antibody testing.
For example, Kroger recently announced that it will be the first U.S. retailer to offer rapid antibody testing to customers. Such tests cost $25, and you get the results within 15 minutes.
For more about staying safe during the pandemic, check out Money Talks News’ latest coronavirus articles.
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