An American Red Cross blood drive on the Benedictine College campus provided participants with free COVID-19 antibody testing which attracted students wondering if they have been infected with the virus COVID. 

Isaac Rudolph, junior, organized this first blood drive of the semester on Friday, Nov. 13. Rudolph was pleasantly surprised that 110 participants from the college and the Atchison community booked appointments to give blood. 

“We very quickly filled up our goals, and we kept increasing the number of people we could accept,” Rudolph said.  

For many, the motivating factor in giving blood was to receive free antibody testing. The test reports on if a person has been infected with COVID-19 in the past even if no symptoms were present. An antigen test, however, gives a picture of an active infection.

Ellie Thompson, senior, attended the drive and was curious to learn if her antibody test would come back positive.

“Everyone that I was around at the beginning of the year all tested positive and I never did, so I didn’t know if I was asymptomatic. I got the antibodies test a couple months ago and just now want to keep doing it and see what happens,” Thompson said.  

Kay Allen, a registered nurse from the Student Health Clinic, emphasizes that a positive antibody test does not ensure complete immunity to COVID-19.  

“We know for sure that the antibodies are temporary, so they don’t last forever … it’s looking like they stay around for about 90 days … So for returning to campus, that doesn’t tell you anything if you have a positive antibody. It won’t let you not test to come back,” Allen said.  

In order for students to return to campus in the spring, they must have a positive or negative antigen test or quarantine on campus for two weeks prior to the semester. Students who have had COVID-19 within ninety days of January 4, 2021, are exempt from these requirements since that is generally the amount of time the antibodies are present.