Alongside the coronavirus pandemic, another lesser-known issue has forced hospitals to temporarily close and health workers to make impossible decisions about who to treat.
The United States is critically short of blood, a crisis that the American Red Cross, which supplies about 40% of the country’s blood, called “the worst blood shortage in more than a decade”.
The national emergency has already had extreme consequences in California.
This month, Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, a public hospital in southern Los Angeles County, closed its trauma center for two hours as it ran out of blood for patients — the first time this had happened in over 30 years old.
“California, like the rest of the country, is experiencing the most severe blood shortage in 10 years,” Dr. Mark Ghaly, secretary of the California Health & Human Services Agency, said in a statement. “Fortunately, there is hope to end this blood emergency with a simple act of kindness that many of us as individuals can take – donating blood.”
Since the start of the pandemic, the number of blood donors nationwide has dropped by 10%, according to the Red Cross. Blood transfusions are essential for operations as well as the treatment of cancers, chronic diseases and traumatic injuries.
High school and college students typically make up a quarter of blood donations in the United States, but many school campaigns have been canceled due to the pandemic. There is also less travel to the workplace as more people work from home and coronavirus precautions limit the size of public events.
Last summer, hospitals across the country were already facing a desperate need for blood. But the problem was exacerbated in the final months of the year as wintry weather and soaring coronavirus cases further deterred people from donating.
The shortage has only added to the pressure hospital workers are feeling as they battle a new wave of coronavirus. In California, there are about 15,000 Covid-positive patients admitted to hospitals across the state, more than at any time since January 2021.
Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer urged Californians who want to support healthcare workers to sign up to donate blood.
“It’s the way to show your love,” Ferrer said during a Thursday press briefing. “It’s the way to be respectful to the people who have given us their all over the past two years.”
How to make a donation
In the United States, a person needs blood every two seconds, and a single blood donation can save more than one life, according to the Red Cross.
To donate blood, you must be at least 17 years old in most states and in good health. Learn more about eligibility requirements.
You can register online with the American Red Cross, call 1-800-RED-CROSS, or find a donation site through American Blood Centers. You can also call your local hospital to find out if blood donations are accepted there.
The rest of the news
Wildlife Bridge: The world’s largest wildlife bridge is finally underway in Los Angeles, New York magazine reports.
Small man : Spending a few days with Jason Acuña is like living in a parallel version of California that revolves around skateboarding.
Weapons smuggling: Six men have been charged with conspiring to smuggle assault weapons and hundreds of thousands of cartridges to one of Mexico’s most violent drug cartels, reports the Associated Press.
What you get
$900,000 homes in Pasadena, Oakland and Napa.
where we travel
Today’s travel tip comes from Bruce Gregory, who recommends Red Rock Canyon State Park, Carrizo Plain National Monument and Antelope Valley Poppy Preserve:
“All three reserves should be oases of wildflowers in the spring if we continue with decent winter rains through January. Generally speaking, if we get an inch of rain in December and again in January in these areas, it will be a good year for wildflowers.
The Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve is the only one with nearby tourist facilities. Make sure your gas tank is full and have food and drink for the day. The flowers can be quite spectacular. Check with the rangers for details. Red Rock Canyon has some interesting geological features, the Poppy Preserve also has flowers nearby, and the Carrizo Plain is remote but produces large amounts of flowers.
Tell us about your favorite places to visit in California. Email your suggestions to CAtoday@nytimes.com. We will share more in future editions of the newsletter.
What we recommend
In Los Angeles, Samara Golden’s new art installation is full of inner turmoil.
We are adding to our California Soundtrack, a playlist of songs that speak or evoke the Golden State.
If you have a suggestion, please email me at CAtoday@nytimes.com with the name of the song and a few sentences explaining why you think it should be selected.
And before leaving, some good news
Of all the things to go through on a dating profile, the image that stood out to Dr. Justin Nathaniel Karlin the most was a photograph of Carson Molly Stern’s left eye.
Karlin, an oculoplastic surgeon at the University of California, Los Angeles, described it to the New York Times: “It was like someone poured a single drop of honey on a blade of grass.”
After hooking up on the dating app Hinge in January 2020, Karlin and Stern started seeing each other and eventually moved in together when the pandemic shutdowns began a few months later.
Three weeks ago they got married in Ojai.
“During the ceremony,” Stern said, “we looked into each other’s eyes.”
Thanks for reading. I will be back tomorrow. — Soumya
PS Here today’s mini crosswordand a clue: Traditional Jewish turnover (5 letters).