Officials in New York's Rockland County have declared a countywide state of emergency amid a measles outbreak. As part of an effort to combat further spread of the disease, unvaccinated minors will be banned from public places beginning at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday.
What are the details?
As of Tuesday, 153 confirmed cases of measles have been reported in Rockland County since October. Frustrated health officials said the outbreak should have been contained by now, but they blame people wandering around in public while contagious.
Some residents have even reported throwing "measles parties" to intentionally become infected and build up immunity, WNBC-TV reported.
So, at midnight Tuesday night, anyone under the age of 18 who has not been vaccinated is prohibited from stepping foot in public until the 30-day state of emergency is over. There's no word on how this ban will be enforced, or what the punishment would be for parents who violate the rule.
Minors who are unable to receive the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine for documented and confirmed medical reasons are exempt from the ban.
The Department of Health will also begin offering free vaccination clinics on Wednesday. Once a child is inoculated, they are no longer subject to the ban.
According to News 12 Westchester, the outbreak in Rockland County is the largest in the U.S. since measles was previously eradicated in the year 2000. Politico reported that the infections are "concentrated in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community where vaccination rates are well below average."
Two weeks ago, a federal judge in Rockland County barred 50 unvaccinated students from attending school for a minimum of three weeks in an effort to stop the outbreak from spreading. But the parents of several students have sued over the decision, arguing that they have the right to opt out of vaccinating their children for religious purposes.
Rockland County Attorney Thomas Humbach told Patch the county would be fighting back, saying, "These religious exemptions run the gamut from references to organized Christian doctrine to generalized spirituality. As the case progresses, we expect several of the exemptions to be challenged, as not evincing a sincere religious belief against vaccination."