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The Red Cross says the supply of blood for medical use is dangerously low

SACHA PFEIFFER, HOST:

Across the country, the supply of blood for medical use is low, dangerously low, the American Red Cross says. In Pennsylvania, the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center said that last week, it had about three days' worth of type O blood, which is less than half of what it usually has available. And in Southern California, the San Diego blood bank serves hospitals. Communications manager Claudine Van Gonka says it's a dire situation.

CLAUDINE VAN GONKA: The problem is that individuals are canceling appointments because they're sick, or they are afraid to come out, you know, because of COVID. And blood drives - mobile blood drives are canceling left and right.

PFEIFFER: In some places, the word is out, and appointments to give blood are already full well into this week. But the Red Cross and others like Van Gonka warn that the need will continue given lower supplies.

VAN GONKA: We don't want hospitals to have to alter their treatment for their patients, and so, you know, we're really hoping that people come out so that we can supply all of these hospitals.

PFEIFFER: And a reminder - you can donate blood whether or not you're fully vaccinated.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Sacha Pfeiffer is a correspondent for NPR's Investigations team and an occasional guest host for some of NPR's national shows.