Frequently Asked Questions Regarding COVID-19

Updated 3-20-20

Current COVID-19-related deferrals based on travel and exposure

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Do blood collection activities fall under the countywide ban on gatherings?
No. According to San Diego County Board of Supervisors Chairman Greg Cox, “Blood drives and blood collection activities do not fall under the countywide ban on gatherings. We encourage organizations hosting blood drives to keep their commitments, if possible. Blood donation centers use appropriate infection control mechanisms intended to assure the safety of the products, donors and staff. As a longtime, regular blood donor, I know that having a safe blood supply for our community is a critical public health issue for our region; and I urge everyone to give the gift of life.” 

What safety measures are in place?
Donor and staff safety is of the utmost importance. We currently have several measures in place.  

Current procedures:   

  • Cleaning of surfaces in between each donation.
  • Reducing the volume of people gathering at any one time.
  • Screening donors for upper respiratory symptoms and taking temperatures prior to entering donor center or mobile.
  • Screening staff for upper respiratory symptoms and taking temperatures of staff who interact with donors at the beginning of each shift.
  • Posting notices to defer donors from entering should they have upper respiratory symptoms or travel exposures.
  • Allowing for social distancing at centers and temporary locations being set up in the community. While bloodmobiles do not completely allow for 6-feet distancing, staff and donors are being screened prior to entry and surfaces are being cleaned between each donation.
  • Following good hygiene practices, including wearing gloves and washing hands in between each donation.
  • Asking donors to self-defer if they traveled to or through (layover) an area with an outbreak of 2019 novel coronavirus, if they have traveled (worldwide) on cruise ships, including river cruises, if they have been diagnosed with or suspected of having 2019 novel coronavirus infection, or if they have lived with an individual(s) diagnosed with or suspected of having 2019 novel coronavirus infection. (see current restrictions)

If I donate blood, will I be able to fight an infection later?

There is no research evidence that donating blood affects your ability to fight infection later. While white blood cells needed to fight infection slightly decrease after donation, abundant cells remain in the event of an infection. Furthermore, donated cells are regenerated post-donation.   

Why are staff and donors not wearing face masks? 
The CDC recommends face masks be used for healthcare workers treating patients who have or are suspected of having COVID-19. There is no indication for healthy donors and staff to wear face masks when interacting with other healthy staff and donors. We are monitoring all staff who interact with donors at the beginning of each shift by taking their temperature and screening for upper respiratory symptoms. Per standard operating procedure, new gloves are worn for each donation. Hands are washed with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub before and after donning gloves. Some staff are choosing to wear masks as a personal decision not related to SDBB requirements. 

Are recipients at risk of contracting COVID-19 through donated blood?
There is no known risk of contracting COVID-19 from blood transfusions. Respiratory viruses are not known to be transmitted by blood transfusion, and there have been no reported or suspected cases of transfusion transmission of this virus. Routine blood donor screening measures that are already in place should prevent individuals with clinical respiratory infections from donating blood. For example, blood donors must be in good health and have a normal temperature on the day of donation  

Can I get COVID-19 by donating blood? 
There is no inherent risk of getting COVID-19/coronavirus from donating blood. No measures can completely eliminate the risk of exposure; however, we have high standards in place to eliminate risk of exposure as much as possible. 

Can I donate if I’m over 65? 
We are not disallowing donors who are 65 and older that feel healthy and well from donating. No measures can completely eliminate the risk of exposure, of course; and staying home per the strong countywide recommendation will always be safer than leaving the household. Younger donors are stepping up to donate. Donors who are 65 and older can feel good about staying home. 

Are you allowing for social distancing? 
Our donor centers have 6-foot distancing at all stations. Staff, of course, will be near you at a few points during the normal donation process. Mobiles do not currently afford 6’ distancing. However, we are screening donors and staff prior to entry onto the bus. We are also cleaning all surfaces between donations.  

What happens if someone donates without any symptoms and then becomes sick?  
We have updated our post-donation instructions to ask donors to notify SDBB if, within 28 days of donation, they develop symptoms or are diagnosed with COVID-19.

Where can I donate?
Effective immediately, all donor centers are open 7 days a week. There are still several active blood drives. Please make an appointment so we can ensure proper staffing at locations. Visit www.sandiegobloodbank.org/givelife or call (619) 400-8251.

Why are you taking appointments when the wait is so long?
We really appreciate that you took the time to come in today and I’m so sorry for the wait.  

We have had an unprecedented positive response to our plea for donors to come in and are so grateful for the community response. We are encouraging people to make appointments, but we are also receiving a lot of walk-ins. Our wait times are longer than usual or expected. We are working diligently to make sure donors get in as quickly as possible while also adhering to additional screening and cleaning measures. Thank you so much for your patience.

How else can I help?
Please consider volunteering to help ensure a healthy, safe and clean environment for our donors. You can also make a financial gift to support our operations during this time. Visit www.sandiegobloodbank.org.

 

Blood Donation Deferral Information in relation to COVID-19

San Diego Blood Bank is currently deferring people who have traveled to areas with CDC Level 3 travel notices for 28 days from their date of departure from the outbreak area. If donors live with or have had close contact with an individual(s) diagnosed with or suspected of having COVID-19 infection, they are deferred for 28 days from the last date of exposure with the individual(s). 

People experiencing coronavirus symptoms, including fever, cough and shortness of breath, should not attempt to donate.   

CDC Level 3 Countries:  

  • China
  • Italy
  • Iran
  • South Korea
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • Latvia
  • Liechtenstein
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Malaysia 
  • Netherlands 
  • Norway 
  • Poland 
  • Portugal 
  • Slovakia 
  • Slovenia 
  • Spain 
  • Sweden 
  • Switzerland
  • Monaco
  • San Marino
  • Vatican City
  • England
  • Ireland
  • Northern Ireland
  • Scotland
  • Wales
  • Travel on cruise ships, including river cruises, worldwide

Visit our blog, www.sandiegobloodbank.org/covid19.