New York county takes 'extremely unusual' step to ban unvaccinated minors from public places amid measles outbreak

Unvaccinated people under the age of 18 are banned from public places in Rockland County, New York, according to John Lyon, director of strategic communications for County Executive Ed Day. The declaration is an effort to contain an outbreak of measles that began in October; 153 cases have been confirmed in the county.

Posted: Mar 28, 2019 7:43 AM


Unvaccinated people under age 18 are banned from public places in Rockland County, New York, as of midnight Wednesday, according to John Lyon, director of strategic communications for County Executive Ed Day.

Day announced the order Tuesday.

The declaration is an effort to contain an outbreak of measles that began in October; 153 cases have been confirmed in the county.

The outbreak began when an unvaccinated resident became infected while visiting Israel and returned with the disease. It has mostly affected observant Jewish neighborhoods.

New York City has reported 214 cases as of Wednesday from the outbreak, also in Orthodox Jewish communities, according to the city department of health.

"We're not punishing the people who are doing the right thing already and following the rules. We just want to encourage everyone to do the right thing so we can stop this outbreak," Rockland County's Lyon said. The step is "extremely unusual. [We] don't believe it's been done anywhere in the country before."

"State law gives health departments authority to broadly implement control measures in response to outbreaks," Jason McDonald, a spokesman for the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, wrote in an email, noting that the CDC provides technical assistance to state and local health departments.

Measles is a highly contagious virus that is prevented with the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine. The CDC recommends that the two-dose vaccine be given first at 12 to 15 months of age and then between ages 4 and 6.

This is the 26th week -- the sixth month -- of the outbreak in Rockland County, according to Lyon, who said it has been the longest outbreak in the United States since before measles was declared eliminated in 2000.

Day said the outbreak will not go on indefinitely. "This is a public health crisis, and it is time to sound the alarm, to ensure that everyone takes proper action to protect themselves and their neighbors; for the health and safety of all of us in Rockland," he said in a news release.

Public places include synagogues, churches, schools, restaurants, stores and public buses. "Public places are defined as: a place where more than 10 persons are intended to congregate," the news release says.

Children who are current with the vaccine schedule but not fully vaccinated against measles because they are not old enough are exempt from the order.

The order does not apply to people who are older than 18 because "we did not want to prevent anyone from going to work," but unvaccinated adults are also encouraged to get vaccinated.

It will be enforced the same way any law is enforced, according to Lyon: During the investigation into when and where an infected individual was exposed, those who are identified as unvaccinated and people in public places will be referred to the district attorney's office.

"The goal is not to prosecute people. We don't want to fine people. We want to encourage people to get vaccinated," he said.

In cases that are referred to the district attorney, Day said the penalty is six months in jail and/or a $500 fine.

"Just to be clear, this is not something we're looking to do. The emergency declaration, by law, comes with that assigned. It's the lowest crime there is." He admitted that police officers will not be walking around asking parents for proof of vaccination for their children. He also said this is just to draw attention to make people understand the seriousness of the situation.

Nearly 17,000 vaccinations have been administered in the county during the outbreak.

"As this outbreak has continued, our inspectors have begun to meet resistance from those they are trying to protect. 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," Day said.

The outbreak has mainly been isolated in a couple of communities within Rockland County, which is just north of New York City, but the whole community is at risk, he said, noting that there have been complications among patients, including a premature labor and a handful of hospitalizations.

"Every new confirmed case is a roll of the dice that we'll see more complications. There's a lot that can go wrong with any case."

Statewide, there have been at least 378 cases of measles reported since October.

The CDC has reported 314 cases of measles nationwide this year as of Monday. That number reflects cases reported by state health departments as of Thursday but not cases reported since then.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 483790

Reported Deaths: 6543
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1003791583
Ramsey42945800
Dakota36091387
Anoka33200384
Washington21986254
Stearns18703200
St. Louis14746262
Scott13209107
Wright12489115
Olmsted1176188
Sherburne869772
Carver765240
Clay688887
Rice667191
Blue Earth591035
Kandiyohi578474
Crow Wing518381
Chisago496844
Otter Tail481370
Benton444890
Winona416649
Mower402731
Douglas392268
Nobles386547
Goodhue384468
Polk342262
McLeod338349
Beltrami336751
Morrison323547
Lyon312444
Itasca311646
Becker309941
Isanti305354
Carlton299848
Steele299211
Pine281916
Freeborn279823
Nicollet256041
Todd246330
Brown243537
Le Sueur233920
Mille Lacs226747
Cass219124
Waseca208617
Meeker206934
Martin188228
Wabasha18613
Roseau179617
Hubbard160640
Houston157114
Dodge15154
Renville149040
Redwood146527
Fillmore13708
Chippewa135935
Cottonwood134520
Pennington131816
Wadena130220
Faribault122716
Aitkin118733
Sibley117110
Watonwan11708
Rock115614
Kanabec107319
Pipestone101424
Yellow Medicine97617
Murray9438
Jackson93310
Swift87918
Pope8025
Marshall77615
Stevens7398
Lake73518
Clearwater71914
Lac qui Parle68216
Wilkin66910
Koochiching61711
Big Stone5163
Lincoln5052
Grant4908
Norman4768
Unassigned44568
Mahnomen4417
Kittson40821
Red Lake3625
Traverse3025
Lake of the Woods2161
Cook1180

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 361499

Reported Deaths: 5412
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk58007549
Linn20606312
Scott18279207
Black Hawk16223290
Woodbury14924211
Johnson1380473
Dubuque13522194
Dallas1132690
Pottawattamie10762143
Story1018945
Warren553474
Clinton542484
Cerro Gordo532781
Webster517687
Marshall495572
Sioux493469
Buena Vista472736
Des Moines457061
Muscatine450691
Wapello4314108
Jasper416266
Plymouth394277
Lee374752
Marion358469
Jones294354
Henry293037
Carroll285348
Bremer279154
Crawford273435
Boone259130
Washington253747
Benton252054
Mahaska223846
Jackson221138
Dickinson217238
Tama212965
Kossuth208154
Clay193125
Hamilton191942
Delaware188639
Winneshiek188427
Buchanan184629
Fayette184335
Page182619
Hardin180839
Wright179531
Harrison179469
Cedar177023
Clayton168053
Butler165831
Mills162820
Floyd162740
Madison154018
Poweshiek153630
Cherokee153535
Hancock146729
Lyon145941
Allamakee144946
Iowa144223
Grundy138830
Appanoose138647
Jefferson138232
Winnebago137730
Calhoun133311
Cass133351
Mitchell130640
Louisa128341
Union126331
Chickasaw124813
Sac124218
Emmet120940
Shelby120433
Franklin118419
Humboldt117225
Guthrie116228
Palo Alto104921
Montgomery103936
Howard102821
Clarke100320
Unassigned9850
Keokuk97829
Monroe93128
Adair91928
Ida90832
Pocahontas85219
Davis82523
Monona81527
Greene76910
Lucas73221
Osceola70314
Worth6947
Taylor66312
Fremont5869
Decatur5749
Van Buren56018
Ringgold51820
Wayne48721
Audubon4869
Adams3264
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