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Attorney General of Virginia

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Commonwealth of Virginia
Office of the Attorney General

Mark Herring
Attorney General

202 North Ninth Street
Richmond, Virginia 23219


For media inquiries only, contact:  
Charlotte Gomer, Press Secretary
Phone: (804)786-1022 
Mobile: (804) 512-2552
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


~ A coalition of 20 attorneys general are urging the FDA to ease restrictions on blood donations from gay and bisexual men while U.S. medical facilities are facing a shortage of blood because of COVID-19 ~

RICHMOND (April 22, 2020) – Attorney General Mark R. Herring today joined a coalition of 20 attorneys general in submitting comments to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) supporting efforts to maintain an adequate national blood supply to aid the nation’s medical response during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the letter, the attorneys general argues that while the FDA’s guidance easing restrictions on blood donations from the LGBTQ population, specifically gay and bisexual men, is a step in the right direction, the guidance does not go far enough to meet the nation’s current needs. The letter advocates moving toward a risk-based, gender neutral screening model and further revising guidance to make it easier for the LGBTQ population to donate blood and plasma in response to the nation’s needs during the COVID-19 public health emergency.   

“Our country’s blood supply is dangerously low right now during a public health crisis when it is more critical than ever,” said Attorney General Herring. “Easing these restrictions will not only help boost the national blood supply but it will also begin the long overdue process of changing this outdated policy towards non-gender-based risk assessment restrictions on blood donations.”

In the midst of the COVID-19 health crisis, blood drives and donations have dropped significantly. Every day, the United States needs approximately 36,000 units of red blood cells, nearly 7,000 units of platelets, and 10,000 units of plasma to provide blood transfusions for major surgeries, treat patients and victims of trauma, and more. The American Red Cross, which provides about 40 percent of our nation’s blood and blood components, recently reported less than a five-day blood supply on hand. As of mid-March, over 4,000 blood drives have been canceled across the country due to coronavirus concerns and closures of schools and workplaces where these drives are usually held, resulting in over 100,000 fewer blood donations.


Recently, the FDA issued revised guidance related to blood donation policies for the LGBTQ community. This guidance reduced the wait period after sexual activity for gay and bisexual men from twelve months to three months. While this change takes a step toward increasing blood donations made by healthy bisexual and gay men in a time when the nation’s supply of blood and blood products is dangerously low, it does not go far enough. Data from the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law Williams Institute indicates that lifting restrictions completely, as compared to a 12-month waiting period, would produce more than 2 million additional eligible blood donors, including nearly 175,000 likely blood donors, and would produce nearly 300,000 pints of additional donated blood annually.


Attorney General Herring and his colleagues also argue that moving toward a risk-based model, rather than one based on gender, is not only more appropriate to address the population’s needs, but is also more in line with laws that protect against discrimination. A population-based policy singling out bisexual and gay men threatens the constitutional Equal Protection principles under the Fifth Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment. Over the long term, the FDA should instead look at risk behavior rather than sex for determining who should donate blood. 


Following Governor Northam’s state of emergency declaration, Attorney General Herring has taken many actions to help Virginians navigate the uncertainty surrounding the COVID19 pandemic. Attorney General Herring has:

  • Successfully petitioned the SCC to put a hold on all utility disconnections and, in response to a second request from Attorney General Herring, the SCC extended that freeze and suspended all late fees for the duration of the state of emergency
  • Reviewed price gouging complaints from around the Commonwealth with his Consumer Protection Section and investigated any potential violations and pursued violators, including sending warning letters to dozens of businesses about which Virginians have complained
  • Issued numerous warnings urging Virginians to be wary of COVID19 related scams as well as scams related to the federal stimulus package
  • Issued an advisory opinion outlining the authority of public bodies, including local governments, to conduct meetings and critical public business while meeting social distancing needs and important transparency and accountability obligations
  • Sent letters to Amazon, Facebook, Craigslist, Ebay, and Walmart urging them to more rigorously monitor price gouging practices by online sellers who are using their services
  • Urged Virginians who have lost or could lose their jobs due to the COVID-19 health crisis to evaluate their insurance options to make sure that they remain covered during this unprecedented national health crisis
  • Lead a multistate effort of 20 attorneys general in urging 3M to do more to combat inflated prices of N95 respirators and other desperately needed PPE
  • Urged the telecommunications industry to make further commitments to protect consumers who are struggling financially as a result of COVID-19 and in calling upon the FCC for support
  • Fought to protect women’s access to reproductive healthcare by filing amicus briefs to block efforts to ban abortions during COVID-19 in TexasOklahomaArkansas, and Alabama

Additionally, Attorney General Herring has urged the Trump Administration to take many different actions to protect Virginians and Americans during this time including:

Joining Attorney General Herring in submitting today's comments are the attorneys general of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Vermont.

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