Rockland County threatens measles patients with $2,000-a-day fine

ROCKLAND COUNTY, New York (WABC) -- After its previous emergency order banning non-vaccinated minors from public places was overturned by a judge, Rockland County officials on Tuesday detailed their next steps in combating a measles outbreak that has sickened 186 people since last October.

County Executive Ed Day and Health Commissioner Dr. Patricia Schnabel Ruppert announced a Communicable Disease and Exposure Exclusion Order, which mandates that anyone with measles or anyone exposed to the illness avoid public spaces or face a $2,000-a-day fine.

They also followed New York City's lead by requiring students in two zip codes -- 10952 and 10977 -- to stay home from school if they cannot prove they have received the MMR vaccine or show acquired immunity.

However, the school mandate does not apply to those with medical or religious exemptions.

"We have seen 33 new cases since we issued our now-nullified state of emergency three weeks ago," Day said. "In short, we were ahead of this crisis."

Watch the full press conference:

Health officials say five cases have led to hospitalizations and that the measles caused one premature birth. There have been no fatalities amid the current outbreak, and only three measles-related deaths in the U.S. in the past two decades.

The original state of emergency had banned all non-vaccinated minors from public places for 30 days, including schools, malls, restaurants and places of worship. But the judge determined the number of cases didn't rise to the level of an epidemic since it only impacted less than .05% of the population.

Also, by law, emergency declarations are only allowed to last five days.

The judge's ruling was upheld by an Appellate Court last week, but the county is planning to appeal that ruling to a four-judge panel later this week.

"We will re-strategize at every opportunity, no matter what's thrown in front of us," Day said. "We cannot afford to wait around and wait for a court."

The Rockland County Health Department urges those who are still unsure about the merits of immunization to talk to their doctors. For additional vaccination locations, call the Health Department directly at (845) 364-2497, or see your private physician.

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