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There have been a total of 764 individual cases of measles reported in the U.S. this year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The number of states impacted by the outbreaks has increased from 22 to 23, as Pennsylvania now has at least one reported case of measles.
Less than two weeks ago, the number of measles cases reported in 2019 broke the previous recent annual record, beating 667 cases reported in 2014. At the time, that was the highest number of cases reported since the disease was eliminated in the U.S.
The new number of measles cases reported Monday means that so far this year, there have been nearly 100 more cases than there were in all of 2014.
New York has the highest number of reported measles cases, but other states already have double digit tallies.
California has reported 40 cases in 12 counties. New Jersey has reported 14 cases so far this year, and the state’s department of health said there were currently 12 cases in two counties.
The outbreaks in New York — in both New York City and in suburban Rockland County — first began in the fall of 2018, and have continued into this year.
As of May 3, there were 214 cases of measles in Rockland County, according to the health department. Of those cases, 79.7% of infected individuals were unvaccinated.
In New York City, there have been 423 confirmed measles cases in Brooklyn and Queens between the start of the outbreak in October 2018 and April 29, 2019.
The city’s health department states that “most of these cases have involved members of the Orthodox Jewish community.”
Of the 17 measles outbreaks that occurred across the country in 2018, three contributed the highest number of cases, and those cases “occurred primarily among unvaccinated people in Orthodox Jewish communities,” according to the CDC.
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced in early April that he was putting an emergency order in place that will fine people in certain zip codes in Brooklyn if they are not vaccinated.
Isaac Abraham, who is involved with Orthodox Jewish communities in Brooklyn and frequently speaks to the media on the groups’ behalf, told ABC News that he felt the blame being attributed to the Jewish communities is unfair.
Talking to ABC News in late April, Abraham pointed to de Blasio’s order, saying that the mayor mentioned the Orthodox Jewish community more than a dozen times in his press conference.
Abraham said that there were multiple reasons why some in the community do not vaccinate their children, including skepticism of government orders, frustration with how the city government has approached the issue, and not believing that the vaccine will work. He added that the community has noticed an increased sense of anti-Semitism, as people, he said, appear to attribute the spread of the disease to the Orthodox Jewish community.
In early April, the United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburg reported an incident in which a Metropolitan Transportation Authority bus driver refused to stop for Orthodox Jewish individuals. When the driver eventually did stop, he shouted “Measles — go in,” according to UJO.
MTA Chief External Affairs Officer Max Young released a statement following the incident.
“The MTA has absolutely zero tolerance for discrimination — we’re taking this issue very seriously and investigating,” he wrote.
As of April 29, the bus operator was on restricted duty and is not in passenger service, pending arbitration, according to an MTA spokesperson.