The coronavirus outbreak is continuing to spread through a Washington State county through "COVID-19 parties" – parties organized so participants can be exposed to and contract the coronavirus so they can get the sickness over with, The New York Times reported.A recent discovery of such parties in the Walla Walla County shocked local authority figures who had been working to contain an outbreak at a Tyson Foods meat processing facility, which has been linked to three deaths at the time of writing. “We want to be able to start to reopen our community,” Walla Walla County's community health director Meghan Debolt told the Times. “But if our community isn’t practicing proper physical distancing and social distancing guidelines, and they are intentionally trying to go and contract COVID-19, that sets us back pretty far from being able to open.”The concept of COVID-19 parties is nothing new. In the past, US health officials have had to grapple with "pox parties," which were typically parties held by parents for children to get exposed to the chickenpox at a young age and thus get the sickness out of the way.The CDC "strongly recommends against hosting or participating in these events."Washington State was an early epicenter for the coronavirus outbreak in the US, particularly in the Seattle area, though Walla Walla County is on the other side of the state. However, the area is far from stabilizing, with Debolt telling the Times that they were starting to see more people defy stay-at-home requirements, which are in effect in Washington State until May 31.“We know that people are exhausted from isolation and quarantine,” Debolt told the Times. “We want to be able to reopen, too. We want to be able to go to restaurants and socialize with friends and family members. We need our community’s help to be diligent for a little bit longer so that we can get ahead of this.”However, the parties represent a clear danger, with local news outlet KIRO 7 reporting that parents were looking for "play dates" with contagious children in the neighborhood.“I have three young kids who are currently contagious,” one post seen on Nextdoor said. “If you would like your kids immunized, let me know and we can make arrangements for a play date.”“COVID-19 parties are not part of the solution,” Debolt said in an interview with KEPR-TV. “They are taking it in the opposite direction because that will lead to an outbreak."She took this message further in an interview with the Union-Bulletin, calling the parties "a really poor excuse to be social."“It is not an innocent endeavor, by any means. It really sets us back. In reopening the county, we look at not only total case count, but if our community is being diligent.“This will delay our community being able to reopen and get our economy operating. This is stupid… Walla Walla is better than that.”“This [COVID-19 parties] is not a great idea," said Dr. Paul Pottinger, an infectious diseases specialist at the University of Washington, KIRO 7 reported. "I do not recommend that people intentionally [get] infected with COVID 19. We do not yet have that big epidemiologic data to tell us—number one: that it is fully protective—I think for most people it will be. For some it might not be. And number two: we don’t know how long that’s going to last. Is that good for this season? Is that good for the next year? No one knows.”The COVID-19 parties do not appear to be limited to the Walla Walla area, with a person in Kentucky having tested positive after attending a similar party back in March, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said at the time, NBC News reported."We are battling for the health and even the lives of our parents and our grandparents," Beshear said at the time. "Don't be so callous as to intentionally go to something and expose yourself to something that can kill other people. We ought to be much better than that."