Rockland County Executive Ed Day held a press conference earlier today to announce that he had declared a “state of emergency” regarding the New York state county’s 153 cases of measles over a 6-month period, and placed a ban on all children under the age of 18 from appearing in any public area, which includes schools, malls and places of worship.
Mr. Day said that this was the “first such effort of this kind nationally.”
The emergency ban is clearly targeted towards parents of unvaccinated children, as Mr. Day stated:
Parents will be held accountable if they are found to be in violation of this state of emergency act. And the focus of this effort is on the parents of these children. We are urging them once again, now with the authority of law, to get your children vaccinated.
Mr. Day tried to downplay fears of police checkpoints and random checks for vaccination status, but he also stated that any parent found to be not in compliance with the emergency order would be referred to the district attorney’s office for possible prosecution. Dissolving Illusions: ... Best Price: $38.50 Buy New $21.60 (as of 11:00 UTC - Details)
If we have a situation where it comes to our attention that a parent is willingly, knowingly, not allowing a child to be vaccinated, under the emergency order, it will be referred into the district attorney.
The Rockland County Health Department, who recommended the emergency ban, has reportedly been going door to door and calling homes within the community in an effort to deal with the measles “epidemic.”
Day was critical of those who did not welcome the home visitations:
Our inspectors have begun to meet increasing resistance from those they are trying to protect.
Our health inspectors have been hung up upon 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 kind of response is not acceptable, and frankly, irresponsible. Jabbed: How the Vaccin... Buy New $19.99 (as of 02:10 UTC - Details)
It is extremely difficult for our department of health to do their jobs when people refuse to cooperate with our investigators and fail to notify doctors when they are sick.
The Health Department and County Executive Ed Day plan to introduce legislation that would apparently make such a ban permanent in Rock County:
We’re in the process of drafting a local law to provide for the protection of county residents and visitor[s] in the events of outbreaks of communicable diseases for consideration of our partners in government the Rockland County legislature.
We owe this to the residents of our community so that we never have to go through this again.
During the question period of the news conference, someone asked a question about the possibility of legal challenges to the ban based on religious objections. Most of the measles outbreaks in Rockland County have occurred in Jewish communities, where travelers from Israel have allegedly been infected with the measles there.