NORFOLK, Va. — Blood donations are down this summer and the American Red Cross attributes part of that to rising COVID-19 cases.
Earlier this week, Gov. Glenn Youngkin donated blood and encouraged others to do the same.
"I think it’s very much a responsibility of those who can donate blood and plasma to do so," he said.
Jonathan McNamara, a spokesperson for the Red Cross, said donations are down about 20% below their normal weekly donation volume.
He said on top of people traveling for vacations and high temperatures, rising COVID-19 cases are partially to blame.
"We’ve also seen an increase in COVID cases, which we’ve heard from some of our donor base that that’s caused them to rethink if it’s safe to donate to the American Red Cross," he said.
The short answer is yes, it's safe to give blood after having COVID-19, but you need to wait 10 days after testing positive before donating.
As for getting vaccinated, there is no need to delay donating blood after getting your shot.
"We want anyone to come to our blood drives that’s feeling healthy," McNamara said.
Now, monkeypox is starting to spread around the state, with close to 100 cases at this point. McNamara said they are closely monitoring the virus, but are asking infected people to hold off on donating.
He said like chickenpox, monkeypox is not found in the bloodstream and is not transmissible through blood transfusion.
The FDA has not issued specific requirements, but the Red Cross is asking people with monkeypox to avoid giving blood for a minimum of 21 days from the onset of symptoms.
Once you’ve recovered from COVID-19 or monkeypox, McNamara urges people to head to their nearest blood drive.
"All blood types are needed," he said. "Help us avoid what we saw earlier in the year, which was a true blood emergency in the community."
If you’re healthy and want to donate blood, the Red Cross is hosting two blood drives in the area on Saturday. The first is at the Norfolk Blood Donation Center on Brambleton Avenue and the second is at the Virginia Beach Donation Center on Virginia Beach Boulevard.