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State Of Emergency Declared Due To Measles Outbreak In Rockland

A state of emergency has been issued preventing anyone without a measles vaccination from being in public for 30 days. Photo Credit: Rockland County Government
Ed Day Photo Credit: File

This story has been updated.

As Rockland County continues to experience the "worst measles outbreak in the country" since the disease was eradicated in 2000, County Executive Ed Day has declared a state of emergency for all unvaccinated residents.

Under the emergency, anyone who is under 18 years of age and unvaccinated against the measles will be barred from public places until the declaration expires in 30 days or until they have received the MMR vaccination, said Day.

The measure goes into effect at midnight on Tuesday, March 26, Day said.

Since the outbreak began in late September of last year, there have been 153 confirmed cases of measles, Day said.

During the announcement, Day said that according to state officials, only 72.9 percent of residents ages 1 to 18 have been vaccinated against the measles in Rockland County. That includes the more than 16,900 people who have received the vaccine since the outbreak began.

Day said the state of emergency was necessary because a "certain group of people" have been giving push-back to the county about getting vaccinated. He said these individuals are hanging up on health officials and slamming doors in their face.

They are also visiting public places such as malls that put thousands of others, especially small children and pregnant women, in danger.

“As this outbreak has continued our inspectors have begun to meet resistance from those they are trying to protect," said Day. "They have been hung up on or told not to call again. They’ve been told “we’re not discussing this, do not come back,” when visiting the homes of infected individuals as part of their investigations. This type of response is unacceptable and irresponsible. It endangers the health and well-being of others and displays a shocking lack of responsibility and concern for others in our community."

Law enforcement will not be patrolling or asking for vaccination records but those found to be in violation will be referred to the Rockland County District Attorney’s Office, he added.

There is a law enforcement component to the declaration that includes a misdemeanor charge and a $500 fine for parents of children who are not vaccinated.

The outbreak began at the end of September 2018, when an international traveler arrived in Rockland County with a suspected case of the measles, the Rockland County Health Department said.

Per protocol, the health department was notified and immediately activated its Communicable Disease Team to investigate. Since then, the number of cases has continued to expand despite measures such as restricting unvaccinated students from attending schools and asking them to not visit public and shopping areas until at least 30 days after they have healed.

Most of the cases are presently clustered in eastern Ramapo including New Square, Spring Valley, Monsey, however, due to Rockland County's small geographic size, exposure to the measles may occur anywhere in the county.

Last week, officials announced five locations where a person with measles visited to warn residents.

They included:

  • Target in Spring Valley Marketplace, 50 Spring Valley Market Place, between Sunday, March 10, at 8 a.m. and Monday, March 11, at 1 a.m., and between Monday, March 11, at 8 a.m. and Tuesday, March 12, at 2 a.m. (The health department has been unable to narrow the time of possible exposure at the Target in Spring Valley Marketplace despite multiple attempts to reach the infected individual).
  • All Fresh Supermarket, 19 Route 59, Monsey, on Tuesday, March 12, between 1:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.
  • Atrium Plaza, 401 Route 59, Monsey, on Tuesday, March 12, between 2:30 p.m. – 5:45 p.m.
  • Designer's Spot, 401 Route 59, Monsey, on Tuesday, March 12, between 2:30 p.m. and 5:45 p.m.
  • TOR Bus Loop 2 Eastbound that traveled on Tuesday, March 12, between 3:55 p.m. and 6:06 p.m. from the Atrium Plaza in Monsey.
  • International Taxi that drove from near 5 Twin Ave. in Spring Valley to near the intersection of Sunrise Drive and Monsey Boulevard in Monsey on Wednesday, March 13, between 3:15 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.

The best way to help protect yourself and the community is to remain up-to-date with your measles vaccination. High community vaccination rates help protect people who cannot get vaccinated because they are too young or have specific health conditions, health officials said.

The Rockland County Department of Health will host a free MMR vaccination clinic from 1-3 p.m., Wednesday, March 27 on the 2nd floor of Building A, Robert L. Yeager Health Complex, 50 Sanatorium Road, Pomona.

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