The American Red Cross is sounding the alarm about a national blood shortage — a shortage that the organization says is its worst in over a decade.
According to CBS News, the shortage has prompted the organization to declare 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.
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.
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.
To schedule a donation with the American Red Cross, click here.