Judge halts Rockland County’s measles emergency order
A judge has granted a temporary restraining order to halt Rockland County’s measles emergency order, which temporarily banned unvaccinated kids from public places.
The lawsuit was filed Wednesday by several dozen parents of unvaccinated students at the Green Meadow Waldorf School in Chestnut Ridge. Another lawsuit was also filed by an unnamed mother from Rockland County.
The lawsuit claimed Rockland officials overstepped their authority with the 30-day emergency order banning children under the age of 18 from schools, places of worship and other public areas if they haven't been vaccinated against measles.
A committee of six leading Hasidic rabbis in Rockland County released a statement urging people in their community to vaccinate against measles, but attorneys for the families still asked a state Supreme Court judge to temporarily declare the order invalid.
"When executive authority overreaches, it threatens all of our freedoms and liberties," said Michael Sussman, an attorney for the families. "In this particular instance, that threat is imminent, it's not only imminent, it's occurring. People's lives are being affected."
Parents of some of the children say that the ban was unconstitutional violating their First Amendment right of exercising their freedom of religion, especially during the Easter and Passover holidays.
County Executive Ed Day declared the emergency on March 26, and it went into effect at midnight the following day.
The county has seen a spike of 167 measles cases since October. An MMR clinic is offering free measles shots in Haverstraw at the WIC Office on New Main Street between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.
The Rockland County Health Department has been holding free vaccination clinics since the outbreak began.
The ruling is only temporary, and all parties involved will be back in court April 19.