Novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) is a new strain of the coronavirus that was first identified in late 2019 in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. Symptoms of the virus include fever, cough and shortness of breath, though most individuals in the United States with these symptoms will not have coronavirus.
Although respiratory viruses are not known to be transmitted by blood transfusion and there have been no reported cases of transfusion-transmitted coronavirus, the potential for transmission of COVID-19 by blood components is unknown at this time. For that reason, SBC is taking a precautionary approach to blood safety, and we have voluntarily implemented a 28-day deferral for travel to high risk regions. If you have travelled outside of the United States in the 28 days prior to your scheduled donation, we recommend that you contact 888-723-7831 to ensure that you are eligible to give blood, as areas of outbreak are changing fairly rapidly. Our medical directors will continue monitoring the situation and any updates from the AABB, CDC and FDA to determine if additional precautions should be taken for blood safety and blood donor safety.
Please note that the shelter in place issued for multiple Bay Area counties does not apply to Stanford Blood Center and blood donors, who perform an “essential activity” for our community. We still have a need for blood donors to turn out for patients. Remember that COVID-19 does not pose any known risk to blood donors during the donation process or from attending blood drives. All instruments used during the donation process are sterilized, and most are single-use only. Additionally, since blood donors must be healthy and without fever on the day of donation, the risk of exposure to a sick person is extremely low at a blood drive. For more on the measures we are taking to ensure donor safety, read our FAQ on blood donation as it relates to coronavirus.
We would like to stress that local patients’ need for life-saving blood products remains constant. Even with a shelter in place in effect, individuals in our community — potentially even individuals we know personally — will continue to be in car accidents, need emergency organ transplants, give birth to babies in critical condition, and need chemotherapy. In short, there will still be lives that need saving. While the risk to most of us of leaving our house is mild sickness, the risk to patients if we stop showing up is potentially the difference between life and death. It is only through your partnership and commitment to donating that we can continue to provide hope and healing to all those hospital patients who require transfusions as part of their treatment.
Remember that the best way to protect yourself and prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses is to practice preventative measures such as washing your hands with soap and water often and avoiding touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unclean hands. For more information on how to protect yourself and the community from getting and spreading respiratory illnesses like COVID-19 and other important updates, please visit the CDC website. For further information on blood centers and coronavirus, review this joint press release from AABB (formerly the American Association of Blood Banks) and America’s Blood Centers.
If you have been diagnosed with or are suspected of having novel coronavirus, or if you have had close contact with a person diagnosed with or suspected of having novel coronavirus, please call our Resource Nurse at 650-725-7336 to discuss your eligibility to donate. If you have recently donated blood and any of the above scenarios apply, please call our Post-Donation Callback Line at 650-724-9968 immediately so we can evaluate your previous donations.
Read more about COVID-19 on our blog: stanfordbloodcenter.org/faq-on-novel-coronavirus-and-blood-donation
Read the Santa Clara County Public Heath Department FAQs: https://www.sccgov.org/sites/phd/DiseaseInformation/novel-coronavirus/Pages/frequently-asked-questions.aspx
Read the full text of the “Shelter-in Place” Order: www.sccgov.org/sites/phd/DiseaseInformation/novel-coronavirus/Pages/order-health-officer-031620.aspx
Read the CDC guidance for COVID-19 high-risk groups: www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/specific-groups/high-risk-complications.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fcoronavirus%2F2019-ncov%2Fhigh-risk%2Fhigh-risk-complications.html
Find CDC resources for COVID-19 education: www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html