The supply chain blocks around the world have hindered the flow of goods across the globe. It has led to shortages in everything from semiconductor chips for the technology sector all th way to dietary headliners such as french fries, cream cheese, and chicken tenders. However, COVID-19 lockdowns have also ended up causing massive issues for a much, much more important resource: Blood.
For the first time ever, officials for the American Red Cross have announced a “national blood crisis” this past week, during the country’s most dire blood shortage in over a decade.
“The American Red Cross is facing a national blood crisis – its worst blood shortage in over a decade, posing a concerning risk to patient care,” stated the organization in a release put up on their website. “Doctors have been forced to make difficult decisions about who receives blood transfusions and who will need to wait until more products become available. Blood and platelet donations are critically needed to help prevent further delays in vital medical treatments.”
Currently, the Red Cross is responsible for over 40% of the country’s blood supply donations, but the group has stated that it has had to limit its distributions to hospitals, going on to say that most hospitals may get only 1 out of every 4 blood products they end up requesting. The group went on to state that it has less than a single day’s worth of critical blood types, such as O-positive and O-negative. Blood can not be be saved, stored, or manufactured, which only ends up making the need for donors much more dire.
The Red Cross has stated that they see four main causes for the now dire shortage:
- An overall decrease in blood donations by 10% since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020
- a 62% drop in blood drives at high schools and colleges since the pandemic forced schools to close and shift to remote learning. The Red Cross reported that student donations made up about 25% of donations in 2019, but dropped to just 10% over the course of the pandemic.
- Continuing cancellations because of illnesses during the winter cold and flu season, weather-related closures, and staffing shortages
- Possible future COVID surges complicating blood drives
The Red Cross also highlighted that businesses and other groups are going through hardships due to COVID, but put extreme emphasis on the need to still donate blood, even as they try to manage their adjustments.
The group took the time to encourage any individuals thinking of donating to schedule their visit as soon as possible and to go ahead and schedule out future donations in advance due to the extreme need.