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Officials Backtrack After Blasting 'COVID-19 Parties'

No evidence anyone wanted to be exposed in Washington state
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted May 7, 2020 9:55 AM CDT

(Newser) – Health officials in Washington state came down hard this week on "coronavirus parties," where the supposed intent is to spread the potentially deadly virus to others who would eventually recover and gain immunity. They're now walking back those comments. Some 94 people had tested positive for COVID-19 in Walla Walla County as of Monday, when officials announced they'd received "reports of COVID-19 parties occurring in our community, where noninfected people mingle with an infected person in an effort to catch the virus," per the Guardian. Officials said they'd learned of the parties after tracing the movements of two people who'd been infected at the gatherings, per the New York Times.

"We ask about contacts, and there are 25 people because: 'We were at a COVID party,'" county health chief Meghan DeBolt told the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin. State Health Secretary John Wiesman warned that the "incredibly dangerous" behavior could "create a preventable uptick in cases, which further slows our state's ability to gradually reopen." By Wednesday, however, officials had retracted the comments, as they "do not have evidence that the people who became ill after the gatherings had attended out of a desire to be exposed," per the Times. There has been only one other report of infection spread at coronavirus parties in the US, per NDTV. That case was reported in Kentucky in March. (Read more coronavirus stories.)

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