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Walla Walla County officials recall claims people were hosting coronavirus parties

• King 5 News

Author: KING 5 Staff

Published: 9:31 AM PDT May 6, 2020

Updated: 7:23 PM PDT May 6, 2020

WALLA WALLA, Wash. — Editor's note May 6 at 7:20 p.m.: Since this story aired on KING 5, Walla Walla County health officials have walked back their previous statements that people were hosting parties with the intention of contracting the virus to develop immunity. A Walla Walla County Health Department spokesperson reached out to "recall" their comments and explained that the parties weren't intended to infect people.

The statement reads in full: "I formally call back my interview today. After receiving further information, we have discovered that there were not intentional covid parties. Just innocent endeavors. Please recall my interview."

Walla Walla health officials say some people are intentionally flouting health recommendations by exposing themselves and others to COVID-19.

Walla Walla County's director of the Department of Community Health, Meghan DeBolt, told the Union-Bulletin this week that contact tracing has revealed that some are attending parties with the idea that it is better to get sick with the virus and get it over with.

DeBolt said new positive test results in the county have resulted from such gatherings. She called the parties irresponsible.

As of Tuesday, there was one death and 94 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Walla Walla County. Forty people have recovered from the virus, according to the county's Department of Community Health.

"While some people with COVID-19 are considered to have mild symptoms, others are at higher risk for severe illness," a statement from the health department said. "Health officials stress that there is much we don't know about COVID-19. Epidemiologists don't know if immunity is a sure thing, if reinfection is possible, or if a virus could continue living inside you. They do know that even the young can be hospitalized, survivors may suffer long-term damage, and even a 'mild' case isn't mild."