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A person and a pup evacuated from a wildfire near Vacaville, California, taking refuge at a Red Cross shelter in August 2020. Photo: Gabrielle Lurie/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

People used emergency lodging across the U.S. more than 1 million times in 2020, over four times the annual average during the past decade, the American Red Cross said.

Why it matters: The figure is a testament to how the COVID-19 pandemic, active wildfires, a relentless hurricane season and other natural disasters wracked the country this year.

What they're saying: “Families are overwhelmed coping with the greatest number of billion-dollar disasters in a single year — on top of the coronavirus pandemic,” Gail McGovern, president and CEO of the American Red Cross, said of its findings from late November.

  • “Yet through it all, more people are stepping up to help others by volunteering and giving blood through the Red Cross.
  • "Their selfless and kind-hearted actions underscore the unwavering humanitarian spirit of people in our country, and we are incredibly grateful for their willingness to give to others."

By the numbers: The pandemic forced over 50,000 blood drives to cancel, impacting more than 1 million blood donation appointments.

  • However, nearly 25,000 COVID-19 survivors have donated plasma since April. Those contributions allowed the Red Cross to ship nearly 50,000 units of blood to hospitals across the U.S. treating coronavirus patients.

Go deeper

Jan 26, 2021 - Health

U.K. surpasses 100,000 COVID-19 deaths

Photo: Owen Humphreys/PA Images via Getty Images

The U.K. on Tuesday surpassed 100,000 coronavirus deaths almost a year after the first two cases were reported in the country, according to government figures.

Why it matters: It is the first European country and fifth country in the world to reach the threshold. The country reported 100,162 deaths on Tuesday.

AAPI leaders praise order on discrimination but say Biden needs to do more to "prioritize" community

President Biden on the left. Rep. Judy Chu on the right. Photos: Doug Mills-Pool (left) and Paul Morigi/WireImage for The Recording Academy (right) via Getty

Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) lawmakers, community organizers and advocacy groups commended President Biden's Tuesday order directing an examination of anti-Asian bias and discrimination, but pushed the administration to commit to stronger action.

Why it matters: Anti-Asian hate crimes have surged since the pandemic began, reaching more than 2,500 in August according to Stop AAPI Hate, an initiative that tracks anti-AAPI racism.