MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — Grand Strand area hospitals and the American Red Cross are encouraging people to donate blood after the Red Cross declared its first-ever national blood crisis.

Meg Heath, the account manager for Red Cross South Carolina said there’s a major critical need, with supply reaching its lowest level in more than a decade.

“There is less than one day supply on the shelves,” Heath said. “We like to keep at least three to five but we can’t even keep one day on the shelf right now.”

Heath said it’s mainly due to the pandemic but also because schools aren’t holding blood drives and COVID-19 cases are rising.

“Again with the numbers rising, I think people may be scared to come out and donate,” she said.

Dr. Paul Richardson with Conway Medical Center said people need to donate. He wants the public to be aware of the shortage and realize one donation could save several lives.

“Blood truly, it is vital,” Richardson said. “It is the lifeline of what we do. Blood and blood products. We have to get them — say if we have a traumatic patient come in who’s lost a lot of blood, we need to replace that blood volume.”

Richardson said the hospital is monitoring the situation. Other hospitals like Grand Strand Medical Center said they’re working to conserve its supply.

“We are out here begging. We are always in critical need, but right now is super critical,” Heath said.

News13 has partnered with the Red Cross for two blood drives Thursday. The blood drives will be from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Coastal Grand Mall in Myrtle Beach and Magnolia Mall in Florence. To make an appointment, go online or call 1-800-RED-CROSS and use “WBTW” as the sponsor code.