County Executive’s Corner: “Measles is Over”

By County Executive Ed Day 

This week, 51 weeks since it began, we officially declared this measles outbreak over. I must say how proud I am of the way our community has rallied together to fight this outbreak. We have been part of the largest measles outbreak in New York State since 1992 and had nearly 20% of the cases nationwide from 2018 and 2019.

We could not have brought it to an end without the help our Department of Health received from federal and state public health agencies along with the community leaders and organizations, elected officials, schools, hospitals, clinics, doctors and residents who worked together against this dangerous disease.

Words cannot express how impressed I have been by the leadership of our Commissioner of Health, Dr. Ruppert and her team at the Health Department. I have seen the long hours they put into this fight, and I truly appreciate their dedication. They are all truly committed to protecting the public health. It is thanks to you and your team that Rockland remains the #1 healthiest county in NYS.

From the beginning, we focused on maximizing vaccinations while minimizing exposures. And our Health Department did that admirably. Holding 20 MMR immunization clinics, both in Pomona and out in the community. In addition, they had walk in clinic hours nearly every day of the week in June, July, August and September.

But the investigations and monitoring performed by the Health Department even went beyond some of the large-scale police investigations I took part in while I was a Detective Commander in the NYPD and Chief of Detectives of the Baltimore Police Department. They performed Nearly 1,200 contact investigations. That number is staggering and shows just how hard we have all worked over the last year. At some points of the outbreak, our DOH was contacting and monitoring up to 140 people EVERY DAY who had been placed on self-isolation because of exposure to measles.

This outbreak has shown what we can accomplish when the local, state and even federal levels of government work together. We have made a change here in New York that will help prevent every future outbreak we may face.

As you may remember, this outbreak began when 7 unvaccinated travelers with measles entered Rockland between October 1st and 17th of 2018. This change in the law which our advocacy brought about will protect our residents in the event another unvaccinated traveler visits Rockland.

Earlier this year I sent a letter to the President requesting action on the Federal level and the CDC responded earlier this month. Writing that they are implementing new guidelines for Customs and Border Protection with regard to ill travelers, improving notification methods and further assisting with contact investigations all to prevent measles being imported into and spread in our country.

Finally, I could not be more proud as County Executive of this great county to see how other municipalities across this Nation, our State and even the Federal government looked to Rockland to provide them strategies and answers as to how to solve this crisis. It speaks volumes about the quality of all those who worked so hard to win this battle. Let measles and other diseases that have been eliminated stay that way.

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