Alongside the coronavirus pandemic is another, lesser-known problem that has forced hospitals to temporarily close their doors and health care workers to make impossible decisions about whom to treat.
The United States is running dangerously low on blood supplies, a crisis that the American Red Cross, which supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood, called “its worst blood shortage in more than a decade.”
The nationwide emergency has already had extreme consequences within California.
This month, Harbor-U.C.L.A. Medical Center, a public hospital in southern Los Angeles County, closed its trauma center for two hours because it ran out of blood for patients — the first time that had happened in more than 30 years.
“California, along with the rest of the nation, is experiencing the most severe blood shortage in the last 10 years,” Dr. Mark Ghaly, the secretary of the California Health & Human Services Agency, said in a statement. “Fortunately, there is hope in ending this blood emergency with a simple act of kindness many of us can take as individuals — blood donation.”
Since the pandemic began, the number of blood donors nationwide has dropped 10 percent, according to the Red Cross. Blood transfusions are essential for operations as well as treatments for cancers, chronic illnesses and traumatic injuries.
High school and college students typically account for a quarter of blood donations in the United States, but many school drives have been canceled because of the pandemic. There are also fewer workplace drives as more people work from home and coronavirus precautions restrict the size of public events.
By 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 winter weather and surging coronavirus cases further deterred people from donating.
The shortage has only added to the strain hospital workers are feeling as they battle yet another coronavirus wave. In California, there are about 15,000 Covid-positive patients admitted to hospitals statewide, more than any time since January 2021.
The Los Angeles County public health director, Barbara Ferrer, urged Californians who want to support health care workers to sign up to donate blood.
“That is the way to show your love,” Ferrer said during a news briefing on Thursday. “That is the way to be respectful to the people who’ve given us everything over the past two years.”
How to donate
Someone in the United States 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. Read more on the eligibility requirements.
You can sign up online with the American Red Cross, call 1-800-RED-CROSS, or find a donation site through America’s Blood Centers. You can also call your local hospital to see 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.
Wee Man: To spend a few days with Jason Acuña is to inhabit a parallel version of California that revolves around skateboarding.
Weapon smuggling: Six men were charged with plotting to smuggle assault weapons and hundreds of thousands of rounds of ammunition to one of Mexico’s most violent drug cartels, The Associated Press reports.
What you get
$900,000 homes in Pasadena, Oakland and Napa.
Where we’re traveling
“The three reserves should be wildflower oases in the spring if we continue with decent winter rains into January. Generally speaking, if we get an inch of rain in December and again in January in these areas it will be a good wildflower year.
Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve is the only one with close tourist amenities. Be sure your gas tank is full and have some food and drink for the day. The flowers can be quite spectacular. Check with the rangers for specifics. Red Rock Canyon has interesting geologic features, the Poppy Reserve has flowers in the surrounding area as well, and Carrizo Plain is remote but produces great amounts of flowers.”
Tell us about your favorite places to visit in California. Email your suggestions to CAtoday@nytimes.com. We’ll be sharing more in upcoming editions of the newsletter.
What we’re recommending
In Los Angeles, Samara Golden’s new art installation full of inner turmoil.
We’re adding to our California Soundtrack, a playlist of songs that are about 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 about why you think it should make the cut.
And before you go, some good news
Of all the things to peruse on a dating profile, the image that stood out most to Dr. Justin Nathaniel Karlin was a photograph of Carson Molly Stern’s left eye.
Karlin, an oculoplastic surgeon at the University of California, Los Angeles, described it this way to The New York Times: “It was like someone had drizzled a single drop of honey onto a blade of grass.”
After connecting on the dating app Hinge in January 2020, Karlin and Stern began seeing each other and eventually moved in together when pandemic lockdowns began a few months later.
Three weeks ago, they got married in Ojai.
“During the ceremony,” Stern said, “we stared into each other’s eyes.”
Thanks for reading. I’ll be back tomorrow. — Soumya
P.S. Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Traditional Jewish turnover (5 letters).