“This is dangerous and puts people at risk for hospitalization or even death,”
Rabat – Washington state health officials are worried about “Coronavirus parties” in which young people gather to intentionally get infected by the virus so as to speed up the process of catching and overcoming it.
“We’ve been getting reports of ‘Coronavirus parties’ where uninfected people are mingling with COVID-19 positive individuals intentionally to try to contract the virus. Bad idea!” said a tweet from Washington’s health department on May 6.
“This is dangerous and puts people at risk for hospitalization or even death,” added the department.
Walla Walla County health officials in southeastern Washington state reported this week they had evidence that one or more such gatherings had been linked to at least two new coronavirus cases, according to the New York Times.
However, the director of community health for Walla Walla County, Meghan DeBolt, said county officials still do not have evidence that people who caught the virus attended the parties with the intention of catching the virus.
“We know that people are exhausted from isolation and quarantine,” DeBolt said. “We want to be able to reopen, too. We want to be able to go to restaurants and socialize with friends and family members.”
The idea is not fully original. Especially before the chickenpox vaccine, many parents held “pox parties,” bringing their children to play with other children who had chicken pox, also known as varicella.
The idea was to gain immunity against the disease as a child in order to avoid getting it as an adult, when the pox usually has stronger symptoms.
Due to the newness of COVID-19, health experts do not have evidence on whether recovered patients develop immunity or how long it might last.
A former governor of Kentucky, Matt Bevin, suggested in March 2019 that “Pox parties” are “Okay,” and exposed his nine children to the disease.
“They all had it as children. They were miserable for a few days, and they all turned out fine,” said Bevin.
However, the CDC warned, “Chikenpox can be serious and can lead to severe complications and death.”
The new trend emerges amid growing uncertainty among Americans over rising unemployment in the US, due to coronavirus lockdowns.
The US unemployment rate has risen to 14.7% with more than 20 million jobs lost in April, the worst figure since the Great Depression of the 1930s.
Two months ago, the unemployment rate was at 3.5%.