Summer Camps Sound Alarm on Measles-Driven Rule Change

MANHATTAN (CN) – The marshmallows are ready for toasting. Pipe cleaners for crafting are on hand. As New York families get ready for summer though, the threat of the Rockland County measles outbreak hangs heavier than mosquito repellent.

Suing for a federal injunction, a trade group that represents 17 Rockland-area summer camps says Rockland’s new records rules that take effect Tuesday will put its members out of business.

Rather than challenging the vaccination requirements themselves, the American Camp Association of New York and New Jersey specifies that it is contesting only the orders that would make camps verify that everyone has gotten vaccinated.

The law firm Feerick Nugent of South Nyack is representing the camp group, which filed the suit Monday in New York’s Southern District. It says that Rockland rolled out the rules just weeks before camps were scheduled to open.

If camps do not fax the county a list every week testifying to the vaccination status of campers and older staffers, the businesses face civil penalties of up to $2,000 a day plus the possibility of having their operating permits revoked.

The camp group asserts that all of its members are in good standing, with “no reports of infection or exposure to campers/staff.”

And while Rockland County officials note that there have been 275 confirmed reported cases of measles in the county as of June 19, the lawsuit says only three active cases remained as of June 4.

Thanks to vaccination orders put in place during the school year moreover, more than half of the temporary orders of exclusion that were issued as of March 10 “were lifted because the schools achieved a 95% vaccination rate,” according to the complaint.

The camp group calls the database requirements burdensome, coercive and an invasion of privacy, threatening their constitutional rights to be free from unreasonable search and seizure and to protect confidential and sensitive personal information.

County Attorney Thomas Humbach meanwhile noted that the Health Department is well accustomed to dealing with private and confidential medical information.

“We have no interest in their business dealings,” Humbach said in a statement. “Far more importantly, our interest is in preserving the public health of everyone within this county, and of the campers and staff who come here from outside the county.

According to the Center for Disease Control, from Jan. 1 to June 27, 2019, 1,095 individual cases of measles have been confirmed in 28 states, the greatest number of cases reported in the U.S. since 1992 and since measles was declared eliminated in 2000.

In New York, the contagious disease resurfaced last year in an outbreak that has been largely concentrated in ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities of Rockland and Brooklyn.

A vocal fringe of U.S. parents oppose the vaccine, citing claims from anti-vaccination literature that the vaccine may cause autism, despite scientific studies that have debunked such claims.

Earlier this year New York State officials eliminated a religious exemption from vaccine requirements, and Rockland County Executive Ed Day declared a county wide State of Emergency in March relating to the ongoing measles outbreak, barring unvaccinated from public places for 30 days or until they received the Measles Mumps Rubella vaccination.

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