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Judge rules against Rockland County measles state of emergency, ban on unvaccinated kids

A state judge has issued a preliminary injunction against a suburban New York county’s emergency order banning children from public places unless they’ve been vaccinated against measles.

Supreme Court Justice Rolf Thorsen ruled Friday in favor of several dozen parents challenging Rockland County Executive Ed Day’s order, part of efforts to stop a measles outbreak that has infected 166 people since October.

The 30-day order enacted on March 26 bans unvaccinated people under 18 from gathering places including schools, stores and churches. Civil rights lawyer Michael Sussman called Day’s action “arbitrary and capricious.”

The judge said such emergency orders cannot exceed five days. He also noted that 166 measles cases in a population of 330,000 people over six months doesn’t constitute an “epidemic” meriting an emergency declaration.

Rockland County Executive Ed Day released a statement Friday in reaction to the ruling. “While the court may not agree with our action in this case, the disease continues unabated,” he said.

Referring to a brand new measles breakout in the area Friday, Day said, “One would think that seeing 42 exposures at a local hospital would garner the attention and judicial support it warrants and it is my view that waiting for a medical catastrophe is ill advised, particularly given the fact that we can see it coming.”

“While today’s ruling by Judge Thorsen did not go as we had expected I want to commend those here in Rockland who have used this State of Emergency as an opportunity to get vaccinated and have conversations with their friends and neighbors about vaccination,” Day’s statement said.

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