Last updated: May 12, 2020
Below is a list of frequently asked questions that can also be downloaded here.
Since counties are now relaxing the requirements for face coverings in public, does LifeStream still require a donor to wear a mask/face covering?
Yes, despite the recent changes to face covering requirements in many locations across Southern California, LifeStream continues to require all donors to wear masks or reasonable cloth-based face coverings at blood drives and our donor centers. This is to protect you, your fellow donors, as well as LifeStream staff members. Our collections staff will continue to wear face coverings, as well.
Does LifeStream test for antibodies to COVID-19?
No, LifeStream does not currently test for antibodies to COVID-19 on routine blood donations.
How do I know whether I’m eligible to give blood? Where can I go to get the latest information?
Only healthy people can give blood. In light of emerging information about COVID-19 (Coronavirus), LifeStream is constantly updating our eligibility criteria as new information emerges from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and blood bank industry leaders. Please visit our website for the latest donation eligibility information: https://www.lstream.org/covid-19/
We are sharing the latest information about COVID-19 with our donors and the public via our website, various communications (like email, text, phone calls) and social media.
I have an appointment to give blood soon. Should I keep it?
Yes! We ask you to keep your commitment to donate blood as long as you are feeling healthy and meet all other eligibility requirements the day you donate, including those related to COVID-19.
Blood donation is a critical and necessary health care activity, encouraged by the CDC, the Surgeon General and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), even in cities and states where “shelter in place” and restrictions on “essential activities” have been implemented. Donating blood is an essential activity.
Response to COVID-19 is rapidly changing on a day-to-day basis. From self-quarantine measures to shelter-in-place orders, daily life has been as heavily impacted as blood donation operations during this time. We know things may continue to change and a strong appointment schedule in the coming weeks and months will enable LifeStream to ensure patient needs are met.
As hospitals are beginning to resume more “normal” activities, the need for blood has already begun to increase. Hospital patients rely on blood donors every day. There is no other source for lifesaving blood.
It is vital we keep our blood supply strong. Blood has a short shelf life and must be continually replenished.
I’m over 65 years old – should I still donate?
The blood donation process is managed to be as safe as possible, but it is a personal choice for anyone—including those who are over 65 years old.
In areas where government agencies have advised residents to “shelter-in-place,” you can leave your home to donate blood.
Can people get COVID-19 from a blood transfusion?
COVID-19 continues to pose no known risk to patients receiving blood transfusions. There are no reported cases of transmission of this virus via blood transfusion.
No cases of transfusion-transmission were ever reported for the other two coronaviruses that emerged during the past two decades (SARS and MERS-CoV).
If I give blood, will it weaken my immune system to fight off COVID-19?
Blood donation does not impact or weaken a donor’s immune system.
Should I donate blood to get tested for COVID-19?
No. There currently is no test available for blood donations that screens for COVID-19 and the virus that causes it. If you are not feeling well, please do not donate; LifeStream does NOT test for COVID-19.
What should I do if I feel fine when I donate blood but then start feeling sick later?
Please contact us immediately at the phone number listed on your post-donation instructions.
How can I protect myself against COVD-19?
There is currently no vaccine for COVID-19, but to reduce the risk of infection, the CDC recommends:
- Washing hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
- Avoiding touching the eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands
- Cleaning high-touch objects and surfaces
- Staying home if feeling sick
If you can be asymptomatic and contagious, how do you know your staff are healthy? Do you test your staff for COVID-19? Do you take the temperature of your staff members to see if they’re sick? Are you enforcing self-quarantine for your staff?
- There is currently no reliable, timely test available to identify the small number of healthy individuals who are completely asymptomatic and contagious. Our staff follow rigorous protocols to lower the risk of transmission at donation sites.
- Our staff are required to stay home if they feel sick and they must self-quarantine if exposed to an individual who is diagnosed with COVID-19. Further, our staff are screened every day for COVID-19-related symptoms and temperature checked before they start work, and are required to leave work if they feel any symptoms during the day.
- Finally, all LifeStream staff members and donors are required to wear face coverings.
Do your staff members wear masks?
Yes, staff at LifeStream are required to wear face coverings.
I’m worried if I give blood that I might get COVID-19 at the blood drive/donation center. What is LifeStream doing to protect me?
We are deeply appreciative of those who support the critical public health need of a safe and available blood supply. The health and safety of our blood donors is paramount.
- We strongly encourage social distancing, and have implemented procedures to attempt to enforce a minimum of six feet distance between donors whenever possible.
- Only healthy people are encouraged to give blood. In fact, donors must be feeling well and free of illness symptoms, including fever, to be eligible to donate.
- All potential blood donors are screened “at the door” for COVID-19-related symptoms, and all donors are checked to ensure their temperature is normal BEFORE entering a collection area.
- People who meet certain travel and other at-risk criteria for COVID-19 are deferred ahead of time from donating.
- We are limiting the amount of people permitted in the donor centers and mobile drives. We may ask you to leave a mobile phone number and wait in your car until your turn is called.
- We are spacing chairs 6 feet apart in waiting and donation areas, per guidance from the CDC.
- Our staff wear gloves and personal protective gear and they wipe down donor-touched areas often and after every collection using a disinfectant.
- Staff use sterile, single-use collection sets for each donor and scrub the donor’s arm for 30 seconds before the collection.
- We are requiring staff to self-monitor, including temperature checks, to ensure they are healthy before arriving to work.
- Staff who don’t feel well are required to stay home.
- In addition to the vigorous FDA-mandated testing of all blood components donated, LifeStream staff follows rigorous safety and sterilization protocol within our mobile and fixed donation centers. This is part of our commitment to our donors – safety from reception to collection to the end product.
Steps We’re Taking:
At All Donation Locations:
LifeStream’s highest priority is the safety of the blood supply, our donors, patients, staff, volunteers, communities and hospitals we serve.
- We are prominently posting signage at each donation center, and bloodmobile reminding people they must be well and healthy to donate and must meet all eligibility requirements including those related to COVID-19.
- We are taking each donor’s temperature upon check-in at our donation centers, bloodmobiles or blood drives, and asking them about COVID-19-related symptoms.
- We are providing adequate spacing of chairs in the waiting, donation, and refreshment areas to allow for the minimum 6-foot social distancing requirements.
- We are offering donors the opportunity to wait in their cars or other comfortable and convenient locations. If donors share a cell phone number when registering, staff will call or text when ready to begin a donor’s medical interview.
- In addition, we are setting up larger waiting areas outside of bloodmobiles (or nearby indoor sites, if available) with a minimum 6 foot distance between donors.
- We are limiting the number of donors to two at a time on the phlebotomy beds on bloodmobiles to ensure the minimum 6 feet between donors’ heads at any given time.
There is no inherent risk of getting COVID-19 from the donation procedure itself. To minimize the risk of contracting it from others, our staff follow rigorous safety and disinfection protocols including:
- Wearing face coverings
- Wearing gloves and changing/sanitizing them between donors
- Washing their hands before and after any donor contact, after removing gloves and frequently throughout the day. If soap and water aren’t readily available, they use hand sanitizer (with at least 60% alcohol).
- Wiping down donor-touched and other high-touch areas often and after every collection
- Using sterile collection sets for every donation/collection
- Thoroughly cleaning a donor’s arm with an antiseptic for 30 seconds
- Blankets provided to donors are used only once and then professionally cleaned or disposed of. Blankets may also be wrapped in disposable draping and reused. Donors may bring their own blankets. Heating pads are covered with a disposable pillowcase.
- We are limiting the number of chairs in the refreshment areas, by spacing chairs further apart as space allows
- We are asking our volunteers or staff to pass out pre-packaged, single use servings of snacks/beverages.
- We are limiting the number of volunteers at any one location.
- We are encouraging donors to wash their hands, or use hand sanitizer, before visiting our refreshment area.
I live with a (doctor, nurse, health professional). Can I donate? Can they?
- If you live with or have been in close contact with a person diagnosed with or strongly suspected of having COVID-19 in the last 28 days, you should not donate. However, if you live with someone who has not been diagnosed with COVID-19 despite caring for patients with COVID-19, you may donate as long as you have no symptoms and no temperature increase (fever).
- A health care worker who directly cares for COVID-19 patients should not donate until at least 28 days have passed since they have done so, even if they use personal protection equipment in those patient interactions.
Can someone who has had COVID-19 donate blood once they have recovered?
- LifeStream requires that people with diagnosed COVID-19 infection wait at least 28 days after resolution of their symptoms before donating blood, based on FDA guidelines.
- Not only can people with resolved COVID-19 infection resume donating, we believe they should donate for two reasons:
- First, their plasma may contain antibodies that could be given to people battling life-threatening infections if the donor self-identifies as someone who had test-confirmed COVID-19.
- Second, since individuals with resolved infections are not likely to become re-infected for a significant period of time, they will be able to sustain the blood supply while others are deferring from donating.
- Those former COVID19 patients interested in donating plasma for currently sick patients should contact us at covidplasma@LStream.org, (909) 3866837, or by visiting LStream.org/covidplasma.
FAQ from Blood Drive Chairpersons
My blood drive is coming up soon, but I’m worried I won’t have enough healthy donors to give blood. What should I do?
It’s critical that you move forward with your blood drive as planned to help us ensure enough blood is always available for hospital patients. Please encourage people at your organization who are healthy to make and keep an appointment to donate blood to ensure hospital patients have what they need to survive.
People at my organization are worried that they might get COVID-19 at my blood drive. What can I tell them to calm their fears and encourage them to donate?
Refer to FAQs in this section: Steps We’re Taking
Should I cancel my blood drive if I get sick?
If you don’t feel well right before or the day of your blood drive, we want you to stay home to take care of yourself. We do encourage you to have back-up available to oversee the drive should you get sick. If you already have a co-coordinator or blood drive committee, then you’re all set! If you don’t, we can work with you to prepare someone else at your location to step in and help out if needed.
I had to cancel my organization’s blood drive recently because of COVID-19. What else can I do to help encourage people to give blood?
Ideally, reschedule your canceled blood drive to a future date.
If you cannot reschedule your drive, serve as a virtual blood drive coordinator by holding your drive at a nearby donation center or community facility.
Share out the need for blood on your social media channels—or if you’re working from home, via email with your supporters.