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.”

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