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The Coronavirus Crisis has Reportedly Driven the Bay Area to Drink

Also: The sportfishing season is “dead in the water,” and more news to start your day

Moscow amid COVID-19 pandemic
Alcohol consumption in the Bay Area has reportedly skyrocketed since its shelter-in-place began.
Photo by Sergei Fadeichev\TASS via Getty Images

Data from a San Francisco breathalyzer company suggests that the region’s alcohol consumption is way higher than usual.

It’s no secret that U.S. liquor sales started to increase as fears of the new coronavirus (COVID-19) took hold — as Eater National reported last week, “sales were up 27.6 percent for wine, 26.4 for spirits, and 14 percent for beer, cider, and malt beverages” for the week that ended on March 14, and your building’s recycling bin likely told a similar tale. Now the SF Chronicle has a glimpse at how the Bay Area’s booze consumption might have increased since the region started to shelter-in-place on March 17, and the data is about what you’d expect.

According to BACtrack, a San Francisco-based company that (per its website) makes personal breathalyzer devices that attach to smartphones, Bay Area users are consuming 42 percent more alcohol than they did before the shutdown began, a figure based on test results it saw across its platform.

Of course, if people are drinking at home (which is the only place they’re supposed to be drinking these days) why are they even messing with breathalyzers? According to BACtrack CEO Keith Nothacker, who spoke with the Chron, people are likely blowing into BACtracks to test their levels out of boredom, not out of a concern about driving drunk. So this 42 percent figure might not be a clear and perfect picture of the Bay Area as a whole, as much as it is a window into the behavior of folks who own a personal breathalyzer and have nothing better to do with their time than to use it.

Meanwhile, people in recovery from alcohol addiction are finding new ways to connect, now that sobriety-supporting measures like in-person meetings are off the table. Speaking with Buzzfeed, San Rafael psychologist Dylan Kersh says that many mental health professionals have discounted their fees to help people continue their recovery during the crisis, and says that “Even if a sliding scale isn’t noted on the therapist’s profile, ask. We want to help.”

And in other news...

  • Workers at two San Jose grocery stores have tested positive for COVID-19. A staffer at the Safeway at 179 Branham Lane “is currently receiving medical care and hasn’t worked in the store since March 24,” KPIX reports, and an employee at Cardenas Market at 1070 South White Road has also fallen ill, but details on their most recent day on the job have not been released. [San Jose Mercury News]
  • Beloved barbecue maven Matt Horn will be serving free meals to go from outside his Oakland restaurant Wednesday. Starting at 1 p.m., and continuing until supplies last, Horn and “a team of volunteers will be sharing free dishes to community members in need,” with barbecued chicken and pulled pork available for curbside pickup at 2534 Mandela Parkway.
  • Stephen Layton, who until San Francisco’s shelter-in-place order was a bartender at Union Square beer hall Hogwash, worries that the current crisis will eliminate human waitstaff for all but the highest-end spots, while every other restaurant will become automated. [SF Weekly]
  • An ailing freelance chef who lives in Oakland says that despite the eviction moratorium, her landlord is trying to give her the boot. [NBC Bay Area]
  • Grocery shoppers might be asking things like “Should I be using self-checkout? Are delivery services ethical? Where is the peanut butter?” Reporter Rachel Sugar has called on a cast of experts to answer these and other burning questions. [Vox]
  • The World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards, an annual ranking of fine dining spots across the globe, won’t go down this year. [Eater National]
  • Instacart says that Monday’s worker strike wasn’t reflected in the number of shoppers available on the platform. In fact, “on Monday, it saw 40 percent more shoppers on the platform compared to the same day and time last week” and “over the past 72 hours, it sold more groceries than ever before.” [Recode]
  • Do you work in food service? If so, Eater wants to speak with you about how the coronavirus pandemic has changed your life. Get in touch here.
  • Celebrity chef Jesse Ziff Cool, the owner of Menlo Park’s Flea St. Cafe, is serving “Meals of Gratitude” to Stanford Hospital staffers. [San Jose Mercury News]
  • Precautions intended to slow the spread of coronavirus have closed coastal launch ramps and prompted deep sea sportfishing charter companies to stay out of the water. “You go deep sea fishing and get a big lingcod, who’s going to gaff it?” asks Tom Mattusch, a member of the San Mateo County Harbor Commission. “You go salmon fishing and get a big salmon, who’s going to net it? You can’t be closer than 6 feet.” [SF Chronicle]

Horn Barbecue

2534 Mandela Parkway, , CA 94607 (510) 225-6101 Visit Website