Alcohol + Capitalism = Deadlier Than COVID


It was always stupid to make alcohol ubiquitous during the pandemic.

In the early days of the pandemic, two things shocked and dismayed me above other dim-witted responses to the virus: the CDC failing to promote early masking, and public health officials and politicians tripping over themselves to make alcohol more available than ever.

Liquor stores wouldn’t be closed, restaurants could deliver booze, or serve “to-go” alcohol with your take-out order.

The constant refrain I heard about why alcohol needed to be so ubiquitous was, “we will see hospitalizations from alcohol withdrawals go up and we can’t have these people crowding our soon-to-be overwhelmed hospitals.”

Guess what? Hospitalizations for alcohol withdrawal went up anyway.

Meanwhile, public parks, soccer fields, and other outdoor spaces were seen as a danger to public health and would need to be closed.

I can only assume these decisions were made with tax revenue and profits in mind over people’s health. After all, no one is collecting a fee to get into the local skate park.

People with years of experience and advanced degrees honestly looked around and thought outdoor spaces were a bigger risk than closing liquor stores to the public? Politicians here in America were obviously going to screw this up and make the wrong call, but public health officials should know better you would think, but then again, here in America many of them are political appointees with one eye on keeping their jobs.

I’m sympathetic to the businesses which relied on alcohol sales to try and stay afloat during that time, but better government policy should have ameliorated their financial suffering. Instead, we got a policy that purported to keep people out of the hospital but instead contributed to the deaths of more people than the virus was capable of killing.

Hell, if the CDC and governments kicked everyone outside for three weeks and made indoor spaces verboten this pandemic would have been over already, considering there is evidence that transmission rates outdoors are less than 1%.Outdoor Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and Other Respiratory Viruses: A Systematic ReviewRecommendations about methods to curb transmission of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus type 2 (SARS-CoV-2)…

Feel free to cram into your local beer & wine though, just don’t take your kids to the park.

Now studies are being published showing just how brain-dead these policies turned out to be.Alcohol-Related Deaths Spiked During the Pandemic, a Study ShowsThe deaths were up 25 percent in 2020 compared with 2019 as stressors accumulated and treatment was delayed, according…

Among adults younger than 65, alcohol-related deaths actually outnumbered deaths from Covid-19 in 2020; some 74,408 Americans ages 16 to 64 died of alcohol-related causes, while 74,075 individuals under 65 died of Covid. And the rate of increase for alcohol-related deaths in 2020–25 percent — outpaced the rate of increase of deaths from all causes, which was 16.6 percent.

Deadlier than COVID.

Then you factor in rises in obesity, suicide, narcotics deaths…and you get a fuller picture of just how utterly public health officials and governments failed to enact policies with an eye on harm reduction during the pandemic.

Drug overdose deaths also reached record levels during the first year of the pandemic, with more than 100,000 Americans dying of overdoses during the 12-month period that ended in April 2021, a nearly 30 percent increase over the previous year, according to reports issued in November. The number of deaths from opioids in which alcohol played a role also increased.

Young adults ages 25 to 44 experienced the greatest increases in alcohol-related deaths in 2020, rising nearly 40 percent over the previous year, according to the new report.

Of course, more papers will have to be published to replicate these findings, but I have a feeling these numbers are probably even higher than reported in this study.

My biggest concern is that when the next pandemic hits (COVID-23: Giraffe Flu? It’s never Tofu Flu, Toflu?) it’ll be like day one on the job and the same half-assed and wrongheaded approaches that didn’t work for COVID-19 will get an encore de failure.


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Dr Erik Reich
Dr Erik Reich
Dr. Reich lives in Cheshire, CT with his wife and son, and their Boston terrier Jarvis. When not taking care of his patients he enjoys exercising, cooking and baking for his friends and family, listening to music and keeping current with his favorite podcasts. He attended the University of Bridgeport College of Chiropractic and graduated in 2012 with his Doctor of Chiropractic degree.
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