What We’re Reading: Severe National Blood Shortage; VA to Offer Gender-Affirming Surgeries; Vulnerable States Amid Variant Spread

The national supply of blood is dropping to dangerously low levels nationwide; the Veterans Health Administration will offer gender-affirming surgeries to transgender veterans; several vulnerable states are spotlighted amid the spread of the more transmissible delta COVID-19 variant.

Severe National Shortage of Blood Threatens Patient Care Services

As the national supply of blood dropped to the critical “red” level this month, indicating dangerously low supply at blood centers across the United States, elective surgeries and some patient care have been delayed, with blood products being reserved for patients most in need. As reported by ABC News, the Red Cross, which supplies 40% of the nation's blood supply, said that approximately 7000 units of platelets and 36,000 units of red blood cells are needed daily. With the pandemic and a rise in violent crime noted to have put an additional strain on the blood supply, demand for blood has risen by 10% in hospitals with trauma centers and by more than 5 times in facilities that provide transfusions, in comparison with 2019.

VA to Offer Gender-Affirming Surgeries for Transgender Veterans

Veterans Affairs officials have announced plans to offer gender-affirming surgeries for transgender veterans for the first time. According to Military Times, estimates from the National Center for Transgender Equality indicate that there are more than 134,000 transgender veterans and 15,000 currently serving in the United States, of which 4000 veterans were estimated to be interested in the surgeries. The LGBT health program from the Veterans Health Administration is also to be renamed to the LGBTQ+ program to reflect new standards of inclusiveness in the armed forces.

Most Vulnerable States Amid Spread of Delta Variant

With the novel delta variant suggested to become the dominant strain of COVID-19 in the United States, an article by CNN spotlighted several states whose vaccination rates may place them at an increased risk. Currently, 45.1% of the US population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, although this rate decreases to less than 35% in southern states such as Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi. Associated with being more transmissible than the alpha variant first identified in the United Kingdom, new research indicates that cases of the delta variant are quickly rising in counties with fewer vaccinated residents.