Letters to the Editor • Opinion
We already know how to prevent pandemics

American adults have been drinking alcoholic beverages more often during the coronavirus pandemic — 14 percent more often, according to a report in the journal JAMA Network Open.

The increase in drinking frequency has been higher for women (up 17 percent) and for those ages 30 to 59 (up 19 percent). The findings stem from a study by Rand Corp., a research organization, that involved a nationally representative sample of 1,540 adults ages 30 to 80 and compared their self-reported consumption of alcohol this past spring with drinking habits for the same time the previous year.

Women also registered about a 40 percent increase both in incidents of binge drinking, defined as four or more drinks within about two hours, and in problems linked to their alcohol consumption, such as risky behavior.

The research did not determine why drinking frequency has increased, but various health experts speculate that more people are turning to alcoholic beverages to cope with pandemic-related stress, anxiety, depression, isolation and boredom.

To protect their health, adults generally are urged to keep alcohol consumption to no more than two drinks a day for men and one a day for women, considered moderate drinking. Excessive drinking can raise the risks for liver disease, depression, breast cancer, high blood pressure, stroke and heart attack, as well as accidental injuries and suicide.

— Linda Searing

As pandemic and stay-at-home orders spread, so does alcohol consumption

Coronavirus: What you need to know

Where do things stand? See the latest covid numbers in the U.S. and across the world. In the U.S., pandemic trends have shifted and now White people are more likely to die from covid than Black people.

The state of public health: Conservative and libertarian forces have defanged much of the nation’s public health system through legislation and litigation as the world staggers into the fourth year of covid.

Grief and the pandemic: A Washington Post reporter covered the coronavirus — and then endured the death of her mother from covid-19. She offers a window into grief and resilience.

Would we shut down again? What will the United States do the next time a deadly virus comes knocking on the door?

Vaccines: The CDC recommends that everyone age 5 and older get an updated covid booster shot. New federal data shows adults who received the updated shots cut their risk of being hospitalized with covid-19 by 50 percent. Here’s guidance on when you should get the omicron booster and how vaccine efficacy could be affected by your prior infections.

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