The blood supply in the Lowcountry has remained “critically low” in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and after months of historically low blood donor turnouts, according to a press release from local blood donation organization The Blood Connection (TBC).

Last week, hospital partners with TBC reported they had been using more blood than normal, while for nearly half the days this month, TBC was unable to collect enough blood donations to cover hospitals’ needs. TBC resorted to back-ordering blood products, affecting 12 hospital partners so far.

“TBC relies on community blood donors to prevent a blood emergency like a shortage,” TBC said in a press release. “Although TBC is responsible for keeping the blood supply stable, it cannot replicate blood; it must be donated. In times like these, an urgent plea to the public is the only way to improve the sharp decrease in donations.”

Even during the early days of the pandemic, in May 2020, TBC was able to collect enough blood donations to cover those needs 84% of the time.

If blood supplies remain low, it is likely that TBC will have to start rationing blood supply by the end of the upcoming weekend, the organization said in a press release.

TBC is urging those willing to donate blood to schedule an appointment or locate a donation opportunity. While a COVID-19 vaccination is not required to donate, those who have received any of the approved vaccines can make donations immediately.