HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — On Tuesday, the Red Cross declared its first-ever national blood crisis in the US describing the current shortage as the worst in more than a decade.

LifeSouth Community Blood Centers provide blood for 17 hospitals across North Alabama and in the last week only met 63% of their blood donation goal. LifeSouths’ Kami Mitchell explained the situation in North Alabama is not dire yet, but they still need more blood to keep hospitals afloat.

“We don’t want to let the gas up, we want to keep our foot on the pedal to make sure that our hospitals have what they need,” Mitchell explained.

Like many businesses and organizations, COVID-19 has negatively impacted the amount of blood the agency receives. Mitchell shared that businesses have canceled blood drives for fear of spreading the virus and they’ve also dealt with staffing shortages.

Mitchell also explained another problem they face frequently is people assuming they are not eligible to donate blood. “There are so many people that have misconceptions when it comes to giving blood, so I encourage people to just try,” Mitchell said. “We’ve heard everything in the book of why you can’t give but let us tell you why you can’t. There are so many rumors and misconceptions out there so just give it a try.”

January is National Blood Donor Month, so to celebrate and thank blood donors anyone who donates at a LifeSouth center before through January 17th will receive a 20 dollar gift card.

Find a blood drive near you on LifeSouth’s website.