Red Cross declares 'severe blood shortage’ in US, result of COVID, behavior as pandemic wanes

The Red Cross reports that Type O blood supply has been down to half a day’s worth and there is an “emergency need” for people to donate platelets.

Updated: June 25, 2021 - 11:43am

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COVID-19 and Americans' behavior as the country emerges from the pandemic – like finally getting surgery – has led to a nationwide shortage of blood donations in hospitals over the past few months.

Beyond people delaying medical procedures for fear of contracting the virus, officials also point to the inevitable increase in trauma as more people get outside and on the road, all leading to an increase in patients needing blood.

"The Red Cross is currently experiencing a severe blood shortage," said Chris Hrouda, president of Red Cross Biomedical Services.s

According to The New York Times, the lack of blood donations is not a new issue but is more dire since the shortage last year when blood donation centers had to close due to the pandemic. 

"In the first place, the pandemic, for more than a year, imposed conditions, such as social distancing, that were inimical to blood donation," Dr. Merlyn Sayers, resident and chief executive of Carter BloodCare, told the newspaper. "And now, with the gradual emergence from restrictions, hospital demands for blood have increased dramatically as patients who understandably avoided hospitalization for fear of Covid are presenting for treatment."

She also called the blood shortage a "national crisis."

The Red Cross says the blood demand from hospitals with trauma centers increase by 10% this year, compared to 2019.

The group also reports the Type O blood supply has been down to half-a-day’s worth and an "emergency need" for people to donate platelets.