NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The Tri-State Area has a dangerously low supply of blood on hand for area hospitals. Donors are desperately needed, and hard to find, with many community drives canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

But as CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported, you now can give blood at some local malls.

They’re shouting it from billboards, including in Long Island City. New York has a blood emergency.

“We are truly seeing just a drop-off in people donating blood and we really need them to come out and donate,” said Tina Kovolisky of the New York Blood Center.

READ MORENew York Blood Center Declares Blood Shortage Emergency

The area is down to a four-to-five day supply — one to two days for types O and B. A minimum seven-day supply is needed.

The pandemic has slowed down the flow of 1,500 donations per day, due to canceled school and office blood drives.

(Photo: Chandan Khanna/AFP/Getty Images)

So, the New York Blood Center is hitting the malls that offered up space, opening pop-up sites, like one at Westfield Mall in Bay Shore. Others are located at Smith Haven Mall and Tanger outlets.

“The concept is it’s a constant flow of traffic and it’s different people every day,” said Doreen Fiscinia of the New York Blood Center.

“People do impulse buys when they are at the supermarket or the mall sometimes. Now, someone can be walking by, ‘Oh, I have an an extra half hour,’ and give blood,” Suffolk County Legislator Tom Cilmi said.

It’s a life-saving decision that Cilmi makes every 60 days. Robert Myers is also a regular. He has found a way to give blood all through the pandemic.

“I found out because of one donation, I actually saved someone’s life. They critically needed that donation during an accident. Because they got it, they were able to live,” Myers said.

While the pandemic temporarily shut down elective surgery, blood usage is back up above pre-pandemic levels, indicating all those delayed surgeries are back. Donated blood has a short shelf life and can’t be saved for months, Gusoff reported.

“That’s the end of it. We need people to donate on a regular basis. We are having trouble keeping up,” Kovolisky said.

It’s easy to do and essential.

“There aren’t many opportunities that we get to save lives in this world,” Cilmi said.

Blood Center officials said they don’t take the pronouncement of an emergency lightly, adding there is a criteria that has been met. They’re hoping the mall pop-ups quickly reverse the trend.

You can make an appointment or just walk in to the New York Blood Center’s mall pop-up locations.

Carolyn Gusoff