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Originally Published on HuffPost

Coping with the coronavirus pandemic often includes drinking, but how much alcohol increases your risk of getting sick?

With bars closed and parties called off due to the coronavirus pandemic, many Americans are replacing in-person drinks with virtual happy hours. And as the country’s drinking habits adapt to social distancing, our alcohol consumption appears to be going up.

According to a report by the market research firm Nielsen, alcohol sales spiked during the week of March 15–22, with spirit sales climbing to 75% over the same period in 2019. (Nielsen also said the trend may reflect people stocking up, but regardless, Americans have a lot of alcohol at home right now.)

That may be a problem, say, Kathy Jung and Joe Wang, experts at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). In addition to the well-known rise of drinking too much, they noted that chronic drinking can do serious damage to your immune system over time. Not only that, but their review of literature suggests drinking too much during a pandemic may put you at greater risk of infection.