“We’re certainly hearing back from folks in the community that it’s penetrated very quickly that we’ve sounded the alarm,” de Blasio said at an unrelated press conference last Thursday. “People are taking it seriously.”
As part of the declaration, the city ordered mandatory vaccinations of the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine for all people in Williamsburg, where the outbreak has been most concentrated.
The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene checked the vaccination records of any person who may have been in contact with infected patients. Individuals who do not receive the vaccine may be given a violation or a $1,000 fine.
On Monday, the Health Department announced it closed a child care program in Williamsburg, the United Talmudical Academy at 75 Ross Street, for failing to provide access to medical and attendance records.
Another 23 yeshivas and day care programs have received Notice of Violations for not following the order.
Since last October, 329 measles cases have been confirmed. Forty-four additional cases were added since last week’s emergency declaration, officials said.
Six of the 44 cases were newly diagnosed, while the other 38 were recently discovered, but had infections prior to the order. The majority of the cases are children under 18 years old.
Though there have been no deaths associated with the measles outbreak, 25 people have been hospitalized, including six in the intensive care unit.
The outbreak struck Borough Park and Williamsburg, where large Orthodox Jewish communities live.
The mayor said the Borough Park situation was addressed rapidly because of “community cooperation from leadership.”
In Williamsburg, however, the mayor said there were strong anti-vaccination voices that influenced the situation. De Blasio said they came from “individual parents organizing among other parents.”
“But those voices loomed larger than I think anyone expected,” he said. “So we had to double down and that’s why we went to the emergency order.”
When asked if he needed the state and federal government to get involved, the mayor said he believes the declaration has made an impact already.
“People are getting the message rapidly and we’re getting a lot of cooperation,” he said. “We will solve this problem but it’s going to take some work over these next days for sure.”
According to reports, opponents of the city’s emergency declaration are preparing to file a lawsuit to stop the order.
A similar executive order issued in Rockland County, where 168 cases were confirmed, was halted by a state judge earlier this month.
But de Blasio said he expects to win in court.
“We will beat them,” he said. “Absolutely confident we’ll beat them.”