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Measles Outbreak: Rockland County Officials Searching For Solution

NEW CITY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- With more than 160 measles cases confirmed in Rockland County, officials met Monday to reassess their strategy.

On Friday, a Supreme Court judge blocked an executive order put in place by County Executive Ed Day that barred unvaccinated kids from public spaces. Judge Rolf Thorsen ruled such orders cannot exceed five days. He also said the small number of confirmed measles cases in a population of 330,000 people over the course of six months doesn't constitute an "epidemic," which merits an emergency declaration.

Day fired back.

"I absolutely do not agree with the judge's opinion that this measles crisis does not rise to the level of an emergency, when, in fact, we are facing the longest lasting current outbreak in the nation, and the largest outbreak in New York State in 30 years," Day said.


Still, Rockland officials went back to the drawing board Monday, promising a new plan to combat the outbreak.

The closed-door meeting ended just after noon, with a new plan promised by 2 p.m. but as of 5 p.m. there was still no plan announced.

That said, state Sen. David Carlucci said the county exec's ban was the right course of action to stop the virus.

"It's happening around New York state. It's only going to spread unless we fix the problems in the system, and the problems are we have way too lax of a requirement," Carlucci said.

With the number of cases in his home county at 167, Sen. Carlucci is up in Albany trying to close loopholes in the law he says endanger the lives of his constituents.

"We're working on legislation that would end all non-medical exemptions," Carlucci said.

MORE: County Exec On Lifted Measles Ban: 'We Have To Wait Until This Gets Much Worse'

Many who oppose the ban on unvaccinated children are parents, citing religious reasons for opting out.

"I don't know about banning them. I wouldn't say banning anybody, but I would say education is the key. They have to go into these communities where this is happening and educate them," said Ken Gribetz of New City.

Meanwhile. the outbreak is almost entirely contained in the Orthodox community, where some say the unvaccinated should stay.

"I don't think people that are unvaccinated should be allowed in public spaces," said Hanna Shoshany of New City. "I think the ban should be in place, absolutely."

"I would like to see that enforced, because in public places, everybody is susceptible to that," said resident David Kalter.

The ban did include schools. Fedna Gerald is a teacher's aid at a Rockland pre-school and wants it reinstated for more than just the student's sake.

"For me, I have a low immune system and getting sick and calling out of work affects me and affects the income that I get," Gerald said.

According to the Rockland County Board of Health, 90 percent of people exposed to the measles virus get it.

For more information about the measles, click here.

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