A blood bank operating in Missouri and three other Midwestern states is seeking plasma donations from people who have recovered from the coronavirus in hopes of helping those still battling the disease.
O'FALLON — A blood bank operating in Missouri and three other Midwestern states is seeking plasma donations from people who have recovered from the coronavirus in hopes of helping those still battling the disease.
The Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center is seeking people who tested positive for COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, and have not had symptoms for at least 28 days. The blood bank operates in parts of Missouri, Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin. The first donations are expected within the next few days.
"We think everything we collect is going to be used somewhere and likely the demand for this treatment will exceed what we can collect," blood center spokesman Kirby Winn said Friday.
Doctors around the world are turning to blood plasma infusions in the hopes of helping patients recover from COVID-19. It's not certain that it works, but the Food and Drug Administration on April 3 announced that a national study being led by the Mayo Clinic would offer experimental plasma therapy to COVID-19 patients and track how they fared.
The idea is that when an infection occurs, the body begins to make proteins called antibodies specially designed to target that pathogen. Those antibodies then remain in a survivor's blood — specifically, in the plasma — for months or even years.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.
While the state remains under a stay-at-home order except for essential employees, Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft's chief of staff said in a memo to employees Thursday that some employees who have offices should return to work Monday unless they have been told not to by the directors of their divisions, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
It wasn't immediately clear how many of the roughly 215 staff in four offices across the state will return to their offices, said Ashcroft's spokeswoman, Maura Browning. Employees working in cubicles will generally be able to work from home, whereas employees who have offices will need to report to work, she said.
Missouri's stay-at-home order, which was issued last week, says federal guideline would determine which employees are considered "essential." The U.S. Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency on March 28 classified elections personnel as essential.
Other Missouri agency heads said they would continue to have employees work from home for the time being.
Johns Hopkins University's Center for Systems Science and Engineering, which has been tracking COVID-19 cases worldwide, reported Friday that Missouri has had 3,624 cases of the disease, including 92 deaths. State health officials reported 3,539 cases of COVID-19 and 77 deaths as of Thursday afternoon. Missouri's health director said the state takes extra time to vet each reported death before adding it to its official count.
The deaths now include six residents of Frontier Health & Rehabilitation, a nursing home in St. Charles, county officials said late Thursday. Fifty residents there have tested positive, as have 10 staff members who are all quarantined at their homes.