Red Cross blood drive

Donors wait in line to give blood at the Bozeman Blood Donation Center.

BOZEMAN, Mont. - If you're planning to give blood over the summer, you'll also walk away with an answer to whether you've been exposed to COVID-19.

Starting Monday, June 15, antibody testing will be a regular part of blood donations at American Red Cross drives in Montana.

The test won't tell you if you have coronavirus now, but it will tell you if your immune system has produced antibodies to the virus in the past.

Scientists believe they can still find antibodies for four months after a patient contracts COVID-19, even if that person never had symptoms. Antibody tests are included with every donation taken through the Red Cross this summer.

The testing is not only vital information, it also gives donors who might be unsure if they've contracted COVID some peace of mind.

"A lot of people want to know, and there's a lot of people that are uncertain about it," says Red Cross donor recruiter Thomas Hensley. "And so this is an opportunity for us to share - to give that opportunity for our blood donors to be able to find out."

If you're worried about being in close contact with others, the American Red Cross is doing temperature checks, following social distancing standards, and is providing face covering for donors and staff members, among other safety and sanitary precautions.

Donors will also receive a $5 Amazon gift card with their donation.

If you're interested in giving blood, here are some dates that haven't been filled across southwest Montana as of press time:

Friday, June 26 at First Baptist Church

1 - 6 PM

Saturday June 27 at Gallatin Valley Mall

11 AM - 4 PM

Monday, June 29 at Bozeman Blood Donation Center

12:30 - 6 PM

Wednesday, July 1 at Foundant Technologies

10 AM - 3 PM

Three Forks

Thursday, June 18 at Christian Center

12:30 - 6:30 PM

Dillon

Monday, June 29 at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints

1:30 - 6:30 pm

To make an appointment, call 1-800-RED-CROSS or click here.

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