The American Red Cross continues to experience a severe blood shortage. The need for blood and platelets are greater than ever as the organization works to provide blood products to hospitals in the state.

The problem is there's a greater need for blood than what's being collected, said Rosie Taravella, regional CEO for The American Red Cross New Jersey.

She said summertime is a slow time of year for blood donations with kids at summer camp and adults planning their vacations. But this year has been especially rough. Taravella said there are more people out and about now that the pandemic has slowed. As a result, there have been more car accidents.

The typical use for blood which can also be used in elective surgeries and disease treatment is now in peril because there is such an overwhelming need for this blood in trauma situations, Taravella said.

With Type O negative blood, which is the universal blood type, she said The American Red Cross likes to have a five-day supply in every hospital in the state. But there have been times in the past three months where supplies have been down to half a day.

What also doesn't help is that fewer blood drives have been held in schools and in corporate lobbies because of the pandemic. Many people are still working from home so the usual places where people are used to donating blood have changed.

As a thank you, all those who come in to give blood July 1-6, will receive a Red Cross embroidered hat, while supplies last. Donors who give blood July 7-31, will receive a $10 Amazon.com gift card by email, plus a chance to win free gas for a year (a $5,000 value).

In New Jersey, the American Red Cross needs to collect 600 units of blood per day to supply state hospitals. Type O, both positive and negative, are the most needed because they are the universal blood types. But at this time, every type of blood is necessary.

Going into the Fourth of July weekend, Taravella said, "It's a beautiful time as we celebrate America to think about all the people in our lives who are so meaningful to us and we have this amazing freedom now to move out and about and we just encourage everybody to consider giving blood at this time."

Residents can download the blood donor app, type in a ZIP code and find a blood drive near them. They can also go to www.redcrossblood.org to set up an appointment to donate blood or to find a blood drive.

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