People holding coronavirus parties in southeast Washington
WALLA WALLA, Wash. (AP) — Some people are intentionally flouting health recommendations by exposing themselves and others to COVID-19 in Walla Walla County, officials said.
Meghan DeBolt, director of the county’s Department of Community Health, 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.
New positive test results in the county have resulted from such gatherings, she said.
“We ask about contacts, and there are 25 people because: ‘We were at a COVID party,’” DeBolt said.
She called the parties irresponsible and unacceptable.
Walla Walla Police Chief Scott Bieber noted that disobeying Gov. Jay Inslee’s March 23 “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order is illegal.
“We’re not going to overreact,” he said. “But we’re going to contact people who tested positive and follow up with a phone call, making them aware of the potential gross misdemeanor offense of disobeying the governor’s orders. If we find intentional violations, we will refer them to the city attorney.”
As of Wednesday, Walla Walla County has 94 residents, including some Tyson Fresh Meats employees, who have been diagnosed with COVID-19. One person has died of the disease, according to health officials.
Washington State Department of Health officials on Wednesday released a statement saying gathering in groups in the midst of this pandemic can be incredibly dangerous and puts people at increased risk for hospitalization and even death.
“Furthermore, it is unknown if people who recover from COVID-19 have long-term protection, John Wiesman, Washington State Secretary of Health said. “This kind of unnecessary behavior may create a preventable uptick in cases which further slows our state’s ability to gradually reopen.”