WASHINGTON — Healthy, young Americans are being urged to help their country and donate blood, as the Red Cross warns of a critical shortage caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

“Social distancing does not have to mean social disengagement,” Surgeon General Jerome Adams, America’s top doctor, said during a White House press briefing on Thursday.

“We know many of you are home practicing the president’s guidelines for social distancing, but one thing we should all consider, especially our millennials and Gen Z, is donating blood.”

More than 4,000 blood drives have been canceled across the country in the midst of the coronavirus health crisis — leading to more than 100,000 missed donations, American Red Cross spokesman Jonathan McNamara told NBC 12 on Wednesday.

Among others, the severe shortage will impact cancer patients, trauma victims and people having routine surgeries.

A young man donating blood amid the coronavirus pandemic.
A young man donating blood amid the coronavirus pandemic.Adam Robison/The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal via AP

Adams, a member of the Trump administration’s coronavirus task force, said all precautions were being taken based on CDC recommendations, including spacing beds six feet apart, disinfecting surfaces between patients, spacing out appointments and temperature checking staff.

“As an anesthesiologist who still practices at Walter Reed [Army Medical Center] taking care of our wounded warriors and our soldiers, I know donated blood is an essential part of caring for patients and one donation can save up to three lives,” he said.

“Give blood today. You’ll feel good about it and you’ll be helping your country and your community during this crisis. And you might even save a life.”

McNamara said there is no evidence of coronavirus or other respiratory problems being transferred through a blood donation.

People who have traveled to COVID-19 hot spots, including China, Hong Kong, Macau, Iran, Italy and South Korea, or have come into contact with anyone with a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19, are being told to postpone their donation by 28 days.

For more information, visit the American Red Cross website.