As Americans fight with each other at Costco and Sam’s Club stores over toilet paper (meanwhile the local grocery store has the exact same paper for a dollar more, fully stocked about a mile down the road in many cases) out of fear of the COVID-19 coronavirus, hospitals are expressing concern that hospitals may face blood shortages due to the illness as reported by Thompson Reuters.
U.S. blood banks are concerned about potential shortages as Americans concerned about catching the new coronavirus avoid donation sites and companies with employees working from home cancel blood drives.
There have already been shortages over the past week in Washington that required other blood banks to move blood in from outside the region, according to Brian Gannon, who runs the Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center and chairs a disaster task force for AABB, formerly known as the American Association of Blood Banks. Supplies in New York were also low because of blood drive cancellations, he said.
“I’m concerned. This is different than most of the types of pandemics we’ve had in the past or the other types of disasters that I’ve been involved with because it has to do with people social distancing themselves,” Gannon said. “Blood has a short shelf life, so it’s not like we can stockpile it.” (source)
It will be interesting to see if hospitals face actual shortages, which in turn could aggravate the current social crisis, and perhaps it may result in the unintentional deaths of some people due to the ensuing panic as well as inability to get blood. It is more proof that the fear of the virus is worse than the virus itself, as it leads people to do irrational things that can have deadly but unintended consequences.