There's another good reason to give blood.
For at least the next four months, the American Red Cross will test all blood, platelet and plasma donations for COVID-19 antibodies.
The test will give donors insight into whether they have been exposed to the novel coronavirus.
There continues to be an urgent need for blood donations as hospitals resume surgeries and treatments that require blood products, according to a Red Cross news release. Red Cross organizers hope the free testing will act as an incentive to give blood.
The Red Cross hopes screening for the antibodies will help people move forward from COVID-19 and be more resilient, said Abigail Anderson, director of the American Red Cross of Central and Northern Missouri.
Test results are expected to be available seven to 10 days after donors give blood.
"The antibody testing allows individuals to know if they are carrying the antibodies," Anderson said. "They'll get results regardless."
Once they find out they have the antibodies, the Red Cross may ask them to become a donor for convalescent plasma.
Convalescent plasma treatments have been used to infuse COVID-19 patients with blood that has the antibodies within it. There have been instances of false positives for antibodies, and additional testing would have to happen to verify the blood would help.
People may qualify to donate convalescent plasma if they are at least 17 years old, weigh at least 110 pounds, are in good health, and have a prior, verified diagnosis of COVID-19 but are now symptom-free.
The Red Cross is accepting blood donations at its Donation Center, 3230 Emerald Lane in Jefferson City.
People are asked to make appointments to give blood. Call 1-800 733-2767 to make an appointment; or visit redcrossblood.org, type in your ZIP code, find donation sites and search for available times.
Through June 30, Amazon is giving away $5 gift cards for all blood donors.
In addition to the Donation Center, staff are conducting Jefferson City blood drives at the Harry S. Truman State Office Building, 301 W. High St., today and Wednesday; St. Joseph Cathedral, 2215 W. Main St., on Friday; and the Department of Natural Resources, 1730 E. Elm St., on Monday.
"Antibody tests (also known as serological tests) are becoming more and more available in Missouri," said Lisa Cox, Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services public information officer, "but the state public health lab is not yet conducting them."
It has been a matter of patient/doctor decision to receive the test and working through a private lab to get results, Cox said.
Missouri mandates that results of serological tests are reported to the state, which publishes data about the results.
Visit the state's COVID-19 dashboard at mophep.maps.arcgis.com/apps/MapSeries/ to find the most recent data on how many people have received the serology tests. As of Monday, 34,415 people in Missouri had received the tests, and 1,288 (3.7 percent) had the antibodies.
Of those tested, 1,443 were between the ages of 18-24; 13,847 were 25-49; 10,793 were 65-74; and 1,419 were 75-84.
It should be noted an individual may have multiple tests done.
The Red Cross wishes to continue to screen for COVID-19 antibodies beyond four months but must raise money to do so. Missouri is part of a division that includes Southwest and Rocky Mountain states, Anderson said. To continue the serological tests beyond four months, the division must raise approximately $5 million.
Call the American Red Cross at 1-800 733-2767 to donate.