The American Red Cross will test all blood, platelet and plasma donations for COVID-19 antibodies so donors can learn whether they've been exposed to the new coronavirus.
"We recognize that individuals and public health organizations desire more information about COVID-19, and as an organization dedicated to helping others, the Red Cross is fortunate to be able to help during this pandemic," Chris Hrouda, president of Red Cross Biomedical Services, said in a news release.
The test -- authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration -- may indicate if a person's immune system has produced antibodies to the coronavirus, even if they didn't have symptoms of COVID-19. A positive test result does not confirm immunity to the virus, and the test is not meant to diagnose illness, the Red Cross said.
For the next few months, blood, platelet and plasma donations will be tested using samples obtained at the time of donation. The samples will also undergo routine screening and infectious disease testing.
Now that surgeries and treatments put on hold by the pandemic have resumed, the Red Cross said there's an urgent need for blood donations. At the same time, blood drives continue to be canceled as many businesses and community groups restrict the number of people at their locations.
The Red Cross noted that blood is perishable and can't be stockpiled.
To ensure donor and staff safety during the pandemic, the organization has put several precautions into place.
They include checking temperatures to make sure staff and donors are healthy; providing hand sanitizer; social distancing; ensuring staff and donors wear face coverings; routinely disinfecting surfaces, equipment and donor-touched areas; wearing gloves and changing them often; and using sterile collection sets and an aseptic scrub for every donation.
If you've made an appointment to give blood, you should postpone it if you're not feeling well, the Red Cross said.
The American Red Cross has more on giving blood.