NY judge rules against Rockland County measles ban

Posted: Updated:

A New York judge ruled against Rockland County Friday, halting the county's ban preventing children unvaccinated against measles from being in public places.

Rockland County declared a state of emergency over the measles outbreak, which was in effect for 10 days.

Some parents challenged the county's emergency order, arguing that it violated their First Amendment right to exercise their freedom of religion.

"We're gratified that the judge has wisely granted these children to go back to school," says Rita Palma, of the New York Alliance for Vaccine Rights.

They say the ban would make it so unvaccinated children would be prevented from going to church or synagogue, especially during Easter or Passover.

Acting Supreme Court Justice Rolf Thorson says that the county's order didn't rise to the level of a disaster required by law.

County Executive Ed Day says he declared the state of emergency after he saw a spike in measles cases since October. He says the number of confirmed cases went up to 167.

"The read I get on this is that, we have to wait until it's much worse, and while that may be legally sufficient, I think it's very wrong-headed," says Day.

The attorney for the parents says they're pleased about the ruling, but Day says this is a setback for the county trying to end the outbreak of measles.

In a statement, Day says, "My administration refuses to sit idly by while those in Rockland are put at risk. All should know that my executive team will meet with our legal and health professionals Monday morning and identify potential new strategies."

The ban is lifted temporarily as the county reviews its declaration. All parties involved are scheduled to return to court on April 19.

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