The American Red Cross of Massachusetts put out a plea on social media Sunday, asking for more blood donors as the agency's supply hits a 10-year low.
"The need [for blood] has not gone away," Jeff Hall, a spokesperson for the Red Cross, told WBUR on Monday.
While the holidays are almost always a low point for donation, Hall said this year, due to the pandemic, it's particularly urgent. Across the country, the Red Cross has about one to two days' supply — less than the three-days' worth they like to have.
The pandemic means that not only are fewer people donating, but there are also fewer blood drives because many of the spaces that had been previously used pre-pandemic are no longer suitable, due to space and social distancing concerns, said Hall.
Many Massachusetts hospitals maintain their own blood supply, but the Red Cross is there as a backfill, Hall explained. As they had to when the pandemic first hit, hospitals are now reprioritizing where the blood goes and who gets it.
The lack of blood also affects cancer treatment facilities, as many cancer patients receive infusions to keep their bodies strong during chemotherapy, said Hall.
(If the fear of needles is holding you back from donating — which Hall says is a common fear — you're not alone. NPR's Goats and Soda has some advice on how to combat your fear.)
An American Red Cross chapter turned away a WBUR reporter who tried to give blood in Boston over the weekend, saying they had to cancel 15 appointments for lack of staffing. Hall said he wasn't aware of any broader staffing issues.
To donate, head to redcrossblood.org, where you can put in your ZIP code and find a local donation center near you.