Commissioners investigating reports of COVID-19 parties

By on Thursday, May 7th, 2020 in Columbia Basin News

WALLA WALLA – The Walla Walla County Board of Commissioners is reviewing the facts surrounding the county’s Department of Community Health Department reporting so-called COVID-19 parties were being held. In a news release, the commissioners stated they were notified by DCH that social gatherings were beginning to occur and that initially one of those gatherings had been reported as a “coronavirus party.”

The gathering was later identified as a birthday party or Easter service, according to the board of commissioners. The story got widespread attention and was picked up by domestic and international media outlets after DCH reported Monday it had received reports of COVID-19 parties occurring where non-infected people mingled with an infected person in an effort to catch the virus.

On Tuesday, DCH Director Meghan DeBolt appeared in a video on DCH’s Facebook page stating, “COVID-19 parties – not part of the solution”.

The Walla Walla Police Department and College Place Police Department also issued statements Thursday.

“When and if we find an intentional exposure to COVID-19 we will conduct an investigation and refer the matter to the city attorney for charging if appropriate.  We have not received any specific information from the Department of Community Health that is actionable,” WWPD Chief Scott Bieber told KTEL News. “The one party in question where two cases are reported to have come from was a birthday party, not an intentional COVID-19 exposure party. They should not have been at the birthday party, but it wasn’t an egregious violation of the governor’s order.” “The City of College Place has not responded to or received any reports of “COVID parties,” CPPD Chief Troy Tomaras said.