The American Red Cross is putting out an urgent plea for blood donations as the nation's supply suffers a severe shortage due to the coronavirus outbreak, the start of flu season, and the holidays on the way.

Healthy individuals are needed to donate now to help patients counting on lifesaving blood. More than 80% of the blood collected by the American Red Cross comes from blood drives, which haven't returned to pre-pandemic levels, as schools opt for virtual learning and people continue to work from home.

Donating blood is a safe process and people should not hesitate to give or receive blood. Watch this video on the safety and need for blood donations. Right now, eligible and healthy donors are strongly urged to make an appointment to give soon.

Fall and winter have always seen a dip in donations, but  America's Blood Centers has seen a 30% decline in blood drives scheduled for the rest of the year compared with last year – equating to about a 250,000 missed donations.

Enter your number to get our free mobile app

This blood shortage could impact patients who need surgery, victims of car accidents and other emergencies, or patients fighting cancer. One of the most important things you can do to ensure we don’t have another health care crisis on top of coronavirus is to give now.

The U.S. Surgeon General says, “You can still go out and give blood. We’re worried about potential blood shortages in the future. Social distancing does not have to mean social disengagement.”

Pete Hanson is on 98.1 Minnesota's New Country weekday mornings from 5:30 to 10:00.