Blood drives start this week at Riverside location in Newport News.

Donors who participate in upcoming American Red Cross blood drives at Riverside Health System locations will receive free COVID-19 antibody testing.

For a limited time, the American Red Cross is testing all blood, platelet and plasma donations for COVID-19 antibodies as an additional health service to donors. This testing may provide critical insight into whether donors may have possibly been exposed to this coronavirus.

“We expect to offer this test throughout the summer months, and will evaluate over the coming months if we are able to continue testing dependent on available funding and the evolving needs of the pandemic,” according to the American Red Cross.

Riverside’s upcoming blood drives include the following:

The antibody test screens for antibodies in a donor’s blood, which are formed when fighting an infection, like COVID-19. An antibody test assesses whether a donor’s immune system has responded to the infection, not if the virus is currently present. The COVID-19 antibody test is authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and may indicate if the donor’s immune system has produced antibodies to the coronavirus, regardless of whether they developed symptoms.

The Red Cross is not testing donors to diagnose illness, including COVID-19.

Individuals who believe they may be ill with COVID-19 should not present to donate until they are symptom free for 28 days and feeling well and healthy.

The results of the blood donor antibody test will be available by logging in to the “Blood Donor” account on the American Red Cross’ “Blood Donor App,” or online about seven to 10 days after a blood donation is made. To learn more about blood donation or to find an upcoming blood drive, visit redcrossblood.org.

Published: June 24, 2020