Rantz: COVID-19 ‘parties’ in Walla Walla spreading the virus, alarming officials

May 6, 2020, 8:37 AM | Updated: May 7, 2020, 11:18 pm

Coronavirus, COVID-19 parties...

An illustration of the coronavirus. (CDC library)

(CDC library)

(Update: The public health official, DeBolt, has since walked back her statements.)

Against the advice of medical professionals, some residents across Walla Walla County have decided to host COVID-19 “parties” to intentionally spread the virus. The thinking is they’ll get hit with it while they’re young and healthy so they can return back to the workforce with some kind of immunity.

The problem is that we don’t know enough about the coronavirus to determine if this is safe, even if you’re not in an especially at-risk demographic for higher mortality rates or serious complications.

“COVID-19 parties are not part of the solution,” Walla Walla County Department of Community Health Director Meghan DeBolt told KEPR-TV. “They are taking it in the opposite direction because that will lead to an outbreak.”

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Ain’t no party like COVID-19 parties?

It’s unclear exactly how these parties work related to specifically spreading the virus. It’s spread via infected droplets, so it seems more, well, gross than traditional “chickenpox parties” where the spread is much easier.

Worse, an individual could contract coronavirus while being asymptomatic. Thinking the coronavirus party didn’t work could mean they unintentionally infect others who may be at higher risk of mortality.

“Intentional transmission of a disease that is deadly for some populations in our community without a doubt crosses the line,” State Rep. Skyler Rude (R-Walla Walla) tells the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH. “It adds to the burden on the local health departments, whose dedicated staff are already overworked, costs the taxpayers, not to mention, it violates the law.”

The economic delay

What’s worse, coronavirus parties may lead to a delay in entering Phase 2 of reopening.

In Spokane, the mayor wants to get out of Phase 1 quickly. But, per a report, she was told by Governor Jay Inslee that the city would need to see three weeks without any infections. That is, of course, unlikely for a city the size of Spokane. But if that’s the direction he’s going, intentional infection in Walla Walla will keep the economic shutdown going.

Luckily, Walla Walla County is not experiencing a surge of known cases. With just 93 confirmed cases and zero deaths as of today, they look to be on schedule to reopen their economy more rapidly than, say, King or Snohomish counties. That is, so long as a bunch of dumb-dumbs don’t spread the virus, pumping up the confirmed case data, and scaring public health officials.

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