WALLA WALLA — Officials in Walla Walla County are retracting their claim that some people held parties in which they intentionally exposed themselves to the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

Meghan DeBolt, the director of the southeast Washington county’s Department of Community Health, issued a statement late Wednesday saying her earlier remarks were incorrect.

“I formally call back my interview today,”’ DeBolt said in the new statement. “After receiving further information, we have discovered that there were not intentional COVID parties. Just innocent endeavors.”

DeBolt had told the Union-Bulletin newspaper this week that contact tracing had revealed some people were attending parties with the idea that it is better to get sick with COVID-19 and recover. She called such parties irresponsible.

Her earlier comments prompted state Department of Health officials on Wednesday to release a statement saying, in part, “Gathering in groups in the midst of this pandemic can be incredibly dangerous and puts people at increased risk for hospitalization and even death.”

More on the COVID-19 pandemic


How is the pandemic affecting you?

What has changed about your daily life? What kinds of discussions are you having with family members and friends? Are you a health care worker who's on the front lines of the response? Are you a COVID-19 patient or do you know one? Whoever you are, we want to hear from you so our news coverage is as complete, accurate and useful as possible. If you're using a mobile device and can't see the form on this page, click here.

Do you have questions about the coronavirus that causes COVID-19?

Ask in the form below and we'll dig for answers. If you're using a mobile device and can't see the form on this page, ask your question here. If you have specific medical questions, please contact your doctor.