Health Commissioner Issues New Order re: Measles Outbreak

COUNTY PRESS RELEASE – Rockland County Executive Ed Day and Commissioner of Health, Dr. Patricia Schnabel Ruppert issued new Commissioner’s Orders that will be used moving forward to contain the ongoing measles outbreak. 

“It is unacceptable to sit back and do nothing as more of our residents fall ill to this deadly disease and court decisions aside, we will never do that,” said County Executive Day. “In 2017, measles killed 110,000 people worldwide, mostly children under the age of 5. And while we have thankfully not seen a death here in Rockland we have seen multiple hospitalizations, including an infant and even a premature birth caused by measles.”

While the court case involving the State of Emergency is undergoing appeal, the Rockland County Department of Health (RCDOH) has redoubled their efforts to combat the measles outbreak. In that effort the Commissioner of Health, Dr. Patricia Schnabel Ruppert in consultation with the County Attorney, Thomas Humbach and the Rockland County Department of Law, have issued new guidelines that will be used moving forward in dealing with the measles outbreak. 

Two new Commissioner’s Orders were announced Tuesday: 

The first is a RCDOH Communicable Disease & Exposure Exclusion Order, which is a Commissioner’s Order, and which has three components: 

  1. Any person diagnosed with the measles or exposed to a person diagnosed with the measles as evidenced by laboratory evidence or a measles tracing investigation conducted by RCDOH must be excluded from indoor and outdoor places of public assembly located in Rockland County for a period of up to 21 days.
  2. The individual is prohibited from going to or being present at any place of public assembly for any period of time with exceptions for medical care, emergency situations and court appointments.
  3. Individuals are required to cooperate with RCDOH public health authorities by providing information regarding details of one’s illness, exposures and contacts.

Failure to comply can result in a $2,000 fine per violation per day. Parents and guardians served with this order on behalf of an exposed minor are responsible for compliance by their child. 

“Many students, even in schools that have now achieved the required 95% vaccination rate, have not yet been immunized. This has to change,” said Commissioner of Health Ruppert. “I have the authority from the State DOH to exclude those children who are not up to date on their immunization. With this outbreak, I am implementing further exclusions of students without evidence of proper MMR vaccination effective immediately. This is addressed to the school administrators and principals.” 

The second Order involves students who are required to have the proper MMR immunizations and to date have not demonstrated that the vaccines have been administered. New York State (NYS) Public Health Law Section 2164 and New York Codes, Rules and Regulations (NYCRR) Title 10, Subpart 66-1 requires mandatory immunizations to be in school unless the student has a medical or religious exemption. 

  1. Pursuant to an audit conducted by NYSDOH/RCDOH, students have been identified as having neither a valid certificate of immunization on file for MMR vaccine or laboratory evidence of immunity against measles, mumps and rubella, nor a valid medical or religious exemption on file.
  2. A notarized affidavit sworn under penalty of perjury or if unable to take an oath, a notarized affirmation affirmed under penalties of perjury, identifying students who have been excluded from the school/day care is required according to this order.

Failure to comply can result in a $2,000 fine per violation per day. These Orders to affected schools were delivered as of April 16, 2019. 

“What I want to leave with the people of Rockland is that we will not quit, and we will not take a back seat when it comes to their health. We will use every tool at our disposal and do so regardless of opposition or distractions. That is our responsibility and we will conquer the challenge that is in front of us,” concluded County Executive Ed Day.