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How to help as Red Cross declares national blood crisis

Posted at 11:35 AM, Jan 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-12 11:35:59-05

January is National Blood Donor Month and blood banks across the U.S. are running low and experiencing unprecedented shortages.

The American Red Cross has declared a national blood crisis for the first time in its history.

The Red Cross says it accounts for 40% of the nation's blood supply, but that the COVID-19 pandemic has severely hampered donation efforts in the last two years.

According to the organization, there's been a 10% decline in blood donations dating back to March 2020. Illness — both from the omicron variant and an active flu season — as well as weather-related closures have only compounded shortages in recent weeks.

There’s also been a decrease in new donors of 34%.

The pandemic has also limited how the Red Cross can advocate for blood donations. According to the organization, there's been a 62% drop in college and high school blood drives since the arrival of COVID-19, as the virus has kept schools closed and students in remote learning.

In 2019, the Red Cross says that students accounted for 25% of blood donors. That number has dropped to just 10% since the start of the pandemic.

Regional Communications Director Siara Campbell said the coronavirus pandemic is to blame.

“We've seen a steady decline in the number of people that are donating blood since the pandemic began," said Campbell. "So we're really talking about in the in the last almost two years now. So we're continuing to confront that relentless issue due to the pandemic and and the ongoing blood drive cancellations, and staffing limitations. It's been taking a toll over the last two years.”

The American Red Cross has a partnership with One Blood which has locations throughout Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast.

To set up an appointment and donate blood, click here.

The Red Cross says that all blood types are needed. However, they're specifically appealing to people with O-positive and O-negative blood types. With 38% of the population being O-positive, it's the most transfused blood type. People who are type O-negative are universal donors.