As previously reported by The Inquisitr, a state of emergency has been issued in Rockland County, New York, last week in response to a measles outbreak. As a result of this, parents of unvaccinated children are attempting to sue the local government.
With 161 residents now infected with measles, a highly contagious disease that can be largely prevented with vaccination using the Measles Mumps Rubella vaccine (MMR), County Executive Ed Day took the initiative to ban unvaccinated children from attending public places in an effort to control the outbreak. Children under the age of 18 and who have not been vaccinated are not permitted from visiting indoor public places in a ban that was implemented on Wednesday, March 27. This ban covered locations such as shopping malls, restaurants, and other gathering places. However, an exemption was made for those that had a medical reason for forgoing the vaccine.
However, parents of unvaccinated children in the area are now suing the local government in an effort to have the ban lifted. According to Gothamist, two cases are currently in front of the Supreme Court in New York City. Filed on Wednesday, the cases are using a New York state statute, Executive Law 24, that allows for a state of emergency to be declared. According to the attorney Michael Sussman, who is leading one of the cases and representing approximately 30 parents who are opposed to the measles state of emergency, the measles outbreak in Rockland County is not yet of a large enough significance to warrant a state of emergency to be imposed.
Sussman issued the following statement.
“There’s been a bungling of the situation by Rockland County, for now, six months and Rockland County. Instead of dealing with the actual public health issues involved, which are most directly dealt with through the quarantining of affected people and those close to them — rather than doing that, they’ve made a wholesale effort to punish people who have legitimate religious exemptions.”
In addition, Patricia Finn is heading a separate suit for an unnamed parent and is arguing that the county is attempting to “increase vaccination rates in Rockland County to a 100 percent threshold of vaccination compliance for all children.”
However, the county has continued to argue that they are not planning to implement a permanent prohibition. The current measles state of emergency is set for 30 days with the expiration date of April 30, which, upon this date, the situation will be assessed once more.
In the past, extreme bans have been issued in Rockland County to help contain deadly disease outbreaks. An example of this is early in the 20th century when polio outbreaks were rampant, during which officials would ban children from attending public places in order to both stop the spread of contagion and protect those who had not contracted the illness.
Public health officials are also arguing that there is a scientific basis for not allowing unvaccinated children in public areas. Measles is highly contagious and can spread very quickly via airborne particles that can survive outside of the body for up to two hours. In addition, a person infected with measles can take up to 12 days to show any symptoms. And, by this point, they could have gone on to infect many others via public spaces.
The cases are expected to be heard before judges on either Thursday or Friday, according to Gothamist.