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A health care worker taking a donor's blood at a drive hosted by the New York Blood Center in New York City on June 14. Photo: Michael Nagle/Xinhua via Getty Images

The American Red Cross asked the public this week to help replenish the United States' depleted blood inventory amid a "severe" national shortage.

Why it matters: The non-profit said the shortage is likely driven by a recent surge in trauma cases and emergency room visits, as well as advanced disease progression from patients deferring care throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

  • Because coronavirus vaccinations have steadily increased in the U.S. and new cases have dropped to their lowest level since the start of the pandemic, the Red Cross has relaxed its restrictions on giving blood.
  • Fully vaccinated blood donors will no longer need to wear a mask or socially distance at drives.

What they're saying: “Some hospitals are being forced to slow the pace of elective surgeries until the blood supply stabilizes, delaying crucial patient care," Chris Hrouda, president of Red Cross Biomedical Services, said in a statement.

  • "As we return to pre-pandemic activities and resume travel to visit loved ones, we want people to remember the needs of patients this summer and the power so many of us have to help save lives," Hrouda added.

By the numbers: Hospitals around the country are currently responding to an abnormally high number of trauma events and emergency room visits.

  • The Red Cross said blood demand from hospitals with trauma centers has increased by 10% in 2021 compared to 2019 levels.

The big picture: Blood centers in central Iowa, Rhode Island, western South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Ohio and many other states have sent out urgent calls for donations.

  • The Red Cross said there was a specific demand for platelets, which quickly expire, and type O blood, since it can be used in transfusions for almost all other blood types.
  • Red Cross donors will receive a $5 Amazon gift card if they give by June 30.

Go deeper: HHS to invest $3 billion for antiviral pills against COVID-19

Go deeper

Sep 25, 2021 - Health

Montana VA medical center to treat non-veterans amid COVID surge

Billings Clinic in Billings, Montana, on Nov. 11, 2020. Photo: Lynn Donaldson/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A veterans medical facility in Montana is planning to accept non-eligible patients as a COVID-19 surge overwhelms nearby hospitals in the state, CNN reports.

Why it matters: The move underscores the dire health situation in Montana due to the latest COVID-19 case surge, where some hospitals in the state have started to consider rationing care, according to the Montana Free Press.

Jan. 6 chair: Panel will ask Ivanka Trump to cooperate with investigation

Former President Trump and daughter Ivanka Trump walk to Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House on January 4, 2020 in Washington, DC. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The chair of the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot said Thursday that the panel is soon going to ask Ivanka Trump to cooperate with the investigation.

Driving the news: "You will anticipate the committee inviting some people to come talk to us," Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) told reporters in the Capitol, adding, "not lawmakers right now — Ivanka Trump."

1 hour ago - World

Putin is challenging Ukraine's "right to exist," Blinken says

Blinken (L) speaks in Berlin on Thursday. Photo: Kay Nietfeld - Pool/Getty

Secretary of State Tony Blinken put the stakes of a Russian invasion of Ukraine in stark terms on Thursday, saying Vladimir Putin's threat is a direct challenge to Ukraine's "right to exist" as an independent country and a democracy.

What he's saying: “There’s been a lot of speculation about President Putin’s true intentions, but we don’t actually have to guess. He’s told us, repeatedly. He’s laying the groundwork for an invasion because he doesn’t believe Ukraine is a sovereign nation," Blinken said during a speech in Berlin.