RALEIGH, N.C. -- Gov. Roy Cooper on Monday addressed the notion of novel coronavirus herd immunity 'parties,' in which people purposely gather in an effort to catch the virus, calling the concept "completely irresponsible and absolutely unacceptable."
The trend has been reported in other parts of the country -- like Walla Walla County, Washington -- but there have been some questions raised about whether that was the intended purpose of the parties, or whether people accidentally contracted the illness at large gatherings.
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Whether or not they are happening in the U.S. and while there are no confirmed reports of such parties in North Carolina, Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen said they shouldn't happen here in our state.
"There is no circumstance under which we want people to actively pursue getting COVID-19," Cohen said in a news conference Monday when asked about the parties.
She said young people might think it's OK to get the virus and get it over with, since they might not have severe symptoms, however, it's the high-risk people that might end up suffering.
"They (young people) are out in their communities, they're 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 medicines... that means virus is still out in the community and could impact those people," she said.
Cohen also pointed out that North Carolina is nowhere near herd immunity percentages--which scientists say are still unknown at this time. For more contagious diseases, like the measles or chicken pox, herd immunity happens when 95 percent of the population is immune, either through vaccination or exposure.
In addition, researchers said it isn't even clear if exposure to COVID-19 provides lifelong immunity--like exposure to the measles or chickenpox--or if a person can become infected several times over their lifetime.
"What we want you to do is exactly the opposite of a COVID-19 party," she said, advocating for people to stay home.
"If you do that (go to a COVID-19 party), you can easily kill someone you love," Gov. Cooper added.
COVID-19 parties are 'completely irresponsible,' Gov. Roy Cooper says