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COVID-19 and Donating Blood: Is it Safe?

Published on Mar. 20, 2020
Give Blood in Northern Michigan

Blood is the most precious gift that anyone can give to another person — the gift of life. One donation of blood can save up to three lives. The American Red Cross is urging healthy donors to make an appointment to provide lifesaving blood products to patients, but with all of the information out there about the new coronavirus and COVID-19, many people who donate blood are left asking, “Is it safe?”

An ongoing blood supply is essential to our healthcare systems nationwide. According to Red Cross:

  • In the U.S., someone needs blood every 2 seconds.
  • Approximately 36,000 units of red blood cells are needed every day in the U.S.
  • The blood type most often requested by hospitals is type O.
  • A single car accident can require as many as 100 pints of blood.

If you are a regular blood donor or someone thinking about donating to help with potential shortages, know that now more than ever, extra precautions are being taken to ensure the safety of all donors and staff. Versiti, the blood supplier for Munson Healthcare, is implementing the safety measures below.

Donor Health & Registration

  • All donor-facing staff will have their temperature taken prior to beginning their work day.
  • Donors’ temperature will be taken at registration to ensure they are not elevated prior to entering donation area.
  • Donors will be asked to wash their hands prior to screening.
  • Donors will be asked if they are currently experience coughing or shortness of breath.
  • Donors will be asked if they have recently traveled to high-risk countries as defined by the CDC.
  • If any of the above is true, donors will be asked to self-defer.

Social Distancing

  • Donors are encouraged to make an appointment to lessen the amount of people waiting at our donor centers.
  • Ensuring 6 feet of space between chairs in waiting area.
  • Ensuring 6 feet of space between donation chairs and/or separation with medical screens.
  • If appointment registration congestion occurs, we will ask for your cell phone number and text you when your appointment is ready.
  • If a drive is being held on the Blood Mobile (bus), Versiti will only allow a certain number of people on at a time (you may be asked to wait in your car until your appointment is ready).


  • Versiti staff will clean all equipment, beds, and other surfaces after each donor finishes their donation.
  • Changing gloves frequently and between donors is part of our normal practice.
  • Versiti will maintain sanitized pen bins, so donors are only using clean pens at sign-in.

To learn more about the steps Versiti is taking to keep donors safe, visit

The choice to donate blood in these uncertain times is a personal decision. To ensure the health and safety of others, it is imperative that only healthy individuals attempt to donate. General guidelines for donating blood, according to the Red Cross include:

Be in good general health and feeling well.

Be at least 17 years old (in some states you can donate if you are 16 with parental consent).

Weight at least 110 pounds. Additional weight requirements apply for donors 18 years old and younger and all high school students.

Have not donated in the last 56 days.

Before Donating Blood

Make an appointment online at to find the donation location closest to you.

Eat iron rich foods food such as red meat, fish, poultry and spinach.

Drink an extra 16 oz of water before your appointment.

Bring your ID.

For up-to-date information on donating blood through Versiti visit