The American Red Cross is grappling with a severe blood shortage as thousands of blood drives have been canceled nationwide amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Nearly 2,700 Red Cross blood drives have been scrapped across the country due to concerns about people congregating at the workplaces, college campuses and schools where they were scheduled to take place, the organization said in a Tuesday statement.
The cancellations resulted in some 86,000 fewer blood donations, the Red Cross said. More than 80 percent of the blood the organization collects comes from these drives, according to the organization.
The wave of cancellations is likely to continue, causing officials to worry that people in need of surgery, cancer patients and car accident victims will not be able to receive the blood they need.
“I am looking at the refrigerator that contains only one day’s supply of blood for the hospital,” Dr. Robertson Davenport, director of Transfusion Medicine at Michigan Medicine in Ann Arbor, Mich., said in the statement.
“The hospital is full. There are patients who need blood and cannot wait.”
The number of cancellations multiplied by almost five since Friday when only 600 drives were called off — resulting in about 18,000 fewer donations, Paul Sullivan, senior vice president of the American Red Cross, told ABC News.
“Over the last week we’ve seen both fewer donors come to our blood drives, and then over the coming weeks we’ve seen a number of organizations cancel their blood drives,” he told the outlet.
Meanwhile, the demand for blood has not changed as the outbreak surges, he said.
“As a nation, this is a time where we must take care of one another including those most vulnerable among us in hospitals,” Red Cross president and chief executive officer Gail McGovern said in the statement.
“One of the most important things people can do right now during this public health emergency is to give blood. If you are healthy and feeling well, please make an appointment to donate as soon as possible.”
She assured the public that the organization has “put additional precautions in place” to protect both donors and staff at blood drives.