Blood donation centers are not testing for COVID-19, but still need donations

Published: March 11, 2020 3:34 PM EDT
Updated: March 23, 2020 5:46 AM EDT

Rumors about the coronavirus are spreading on social media.

For example, one tweet claimed a way to get tested for the virus is by donating blood. THAT IS NOT TRUE!

Blood donation centers do not have test kits on hand to check for the coronavirus, but they do say, it’s safe to donate.

We spoke with some of our local blood donation centers. Blood staff at Lee Health say they’re also seeing fewer people and, because of coronavirus concerns, they fear many won’t donate.

Joseph Bleers has been donating blood for 16 years.

“I started donating because I wanted to help the soldiers in the Iraq war,” he said. “I’m a veteran and I thought I’d be able to help them, but I found out that they only take from within the military. So ever since then, I just figured, well, I’ll keep donating and help people out.”

Bleers says the coronavirus isn’t stopping him from helping someone in need.

“I don’t see why anybody would be nervous about it,” he said.

Coronavirus and blood supply (Lee Health)

Others here in Southwest Florida aren’t as confident. Susan Forbes with One Blood says it’s affecting donations.

“People are starting to cancel blood drives and cancel their donation appointment,” she said.

At Lee Health, Blood Center Supervisor Jeremy Puckett says they’re also seeing fewer people.

“We’ve only had one donor actually come in today,” he said. “A normal day for us, it’s maybe a dozen, so definitely think just the one is an obvious downfall.”

Without blood, they can’t help those in need.

“Looking at the possible infection across this area, we start having a lot of sick people. Those people aren’t eligible to donate, so now, we need some people to step up and tell those donors to make sure that we have, but like every regular patient, that are still gonna need those transfusions every day,” he said.

The blood donation centers we talked with say if you’re afraid to go to a hospital, you can always go to one of their “blood mobiles.” As for that social media post swarming around, Lee Health says they are not a testing facility and will not test for coronavirus.

They are encouraging people to donate.

For blood donation centers in your area, click here.

More information about blood donation (Lee Health)