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New York City's Blood Supply Dangerously Low; 'Anyone Who Can Donate Blood, We Need You Now'

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - Temporary blood shortages are common during this time of year, but the coronavirus pandemic has created a chronic shortage, with many people wondering if it is safe to donate.

As CBS2's Natalie Duddridge reports, giving blood is a bit different now. It has been very quiet at the Grand Central Blood Clinic, because they can only take one appointment every 15 minutes. But health officials want you know to it's safe, and they need your blood more than ever.

Pre-pandemic, you could walk into any blood center to give. Now you have to make an appointment, are stopped at the door for your temperature to be taken, and have to answer a list of questions like "Have you been away in the last 14 days?" to qualify to donate.

But those inconveniences don't stop the committed few.

"I did it because I felt I wanted to help out as much as I could," said donor Gustavo Llanos.

"There are a lot of things to worry about, but blood is fundamental," a donor named Steve said.

"I didn't realize how desperate they are because everybody's so afraid," donor John DeJesus said.


Our area requires 1,500 donations each day to treat patients ranging from trauma victims, to newborn babies and cancer patients.


Health officials say they're down almost 40% of pre-pandemic levels, well below what's needed.

"I had a blood transfusion one time I needed blood, so I know how important that is. There's nothing to be afraid of, it's a safe place to go," said Tarsha Tew.

But many previous donors aren't showing up now. They're nervous about their own safety.

On top of that, nearly all community blood drives had to cancel visiting on location due to COVID-19.

"We used to come to you at high schools and colleges in your places of work. It was really easy to walk down the hallway or donate with your friends, and now there are few were blood drives," said Andrea Cefarelli of the New York Blood Center.


To boost donations, the New York Blood Center teamed up with eight local hospitals to launch an awareness campaign to get people to help, letting people know they need help.

Even Mayor Bill de Blasio mentioned it in his daily briefing.

"The blood supply for New York City has been reduced greatly. There just aren't the blood drives that used to happen," de Blasio said. "Anyone who can donate blood, we need you now."

Health officials say, as inspiration, think about our own families.

"My grandmother is 105. I think about her," DeJesus said.

And give back, especially as we head into uncertain times, and a second wave looms.

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