North Carolina Hospital Nurse Said Patients Attending Coronavirus Parties, Intentionally Trying to Get the Virus

A North Carolina hospital nurse said patients are attending COVID-19 parties in order to intentionally get themselves infected with the novel coronavirus.

"We have heard from a lot of patients and the community that they're unafraid of getting the virus, so people are actually out and about trying to get the virus – attending gatherings, parties –just trying to maximize their chances of exposure," Yolanda Enrich, a nurse practitioner at Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center in Winston-Salem, told KOAT Action 7 News.

Enrich told the tv station that patients attend such parties with the purpose of developing immunity to COVID-19 so that they no longer have to take precautions against the virus during their daily routines.

"We're really worried because not everyone that becomes infected with the virus produces antibodies," Enrich said, urging families to continue following safety recommendations.

Governor Roy Cooper was asked about these types of gatherings at a press conference Monday, where he called such activities "completely irresponsible and absolutely unacceptable."

Mandy Cohen, secretary of the North Carolina Department of the Health and Human services, further expounded on the governor's point at the press conference.

"There is no circumstance under which we want folks to actively pursue getting COVID-19 The reason we are working so hard collectively to keep the virus spread low is the fact that when there is more virus in our community, it not only impacts those who have it, but particularly those who are at high risk of getting severe reactions to the disease," Cohen said.

"So what we are hearing is young folks saying, 'I think I'm fine. I'm going to get COVID-19,' but they are out in their communities. They are spreading the virus further and then those who have more chronic diseases who are older, but still need to go to the grocery store or go to their health care setting or go to the pharmacy to pick up medicine – that means the virus is still out in the community and can impact those people."

Cohen added that "we are nowhere near herd immunity" and that a party would not be helpful to that end. She implores residents to continue following social distancing rules and not to attend such gatherings.

The practice of attending parties to get infected with a virus is not uncommon. Chickenpox parties are at times used by parents to get their children infected with the disease at a young age so they can develop immunity. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends against attending such parties because of the severe complications of the disease, including death, and there is no way of knowing how any specific child will be affected.

North Carolina has 19,700 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus and 691 deaths attributed to the virus, according to the state's coronavirus dashboard. The state also has 585 patients hospitalized with COVID-19.

COVID Parties NC
Counter protesters in front of the legislative building in Raleigh, NC on May 05, 2020. Peter Zay/Anadolu Agency/Getty