Rockland County has declared a state of emergency due to the measles outbreak that bans any unvaccinated minors from public spaces. Officials announced the ban this week, barring anyone under 18 who hasn’t been vaccinated from going out into public until they are vaccinated or when emergency declaration expires in 30 days.
The ban will include schools, shops, restaurants, and places of worship. According to Rockland County Executive Ed Day, there will be no religious exemption for the ban. Earlier this month, a federal judge denied a request for 44 unvaccinated students to return to the Green Meadow Waldorf School in Chestnut Ridge.
Rockland is currently experiencing the longest measles outbreak in New York since it was believed to be eliminated from the United States back in 2000. According to Rockland County spokesman John G. Lyon, 153 cases have been reported since October, with 48 of those cases being confirmed in 2019.
This ban comes on the heels of New York politicians introducing a bill that would allow teens to get vaccinated even without the permission of their parents, allowing unvaccinated kids to receive a variety of immunizations, including the one for measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR).
If anyone is found in violation of the state of emergency, they could end up spending up to six months in jail, as well as being fined up to $500. But according to Day, Rockland officials are not looking to arrest anyone. Rather, they are just hoping to get the public’s attention on the issue.
“Last year, not just one but seven unvaccinated travelers diagnosed with measles entered our county between Oct. 1 and Oct. 17 leading to 153 confirmed cases. This is the longest outbreak in the U.S. due to measles since the disease was officially eradicated in 2000,” Day said.