Rockland County, NY – A Spring Valley children’s play center got a surprise visit yesterday from Rockland County Executive Ed Day who dropped in to express his support for the business’s Chasidic owner who reported being threatened and harassed after expressing his pro-vaccination views in a CNN interview.
Day said that he seen a News 12 story (http://bit.ly/2VYoYRl) reporting that Shimon Singer, owner of Turtle Boo, received hundreds of angry phone calls after participating in a CNN story about the measles outbreak in Rockland County.
Singer told CNN that he was afraid to take his infant daughter out because of the measles outbreak, which was also causing a decline in his business, with parents afraid to take their children to public places for fear of being exposed to the highly contagious virus.
The calls have been in both English and Yiddish and Singer and his wife have also been subjected to a barrage of hostile emails prompted by an email blast encouraging people to browbeat the Singers. Singer said that the email read, “If you know him or her, call them up and say how disgusting and unethical this interview is, especially as a Jewish family.”
Day told VIN News that while he believes that those who oppose vaccinations are entitled to their beliefs, he found it extremely disturbing that someone could be harassed for expressing their opinions in a news interview.
“With my background, I take a dim view of people being bullied and an even dimmer view of doing it in such a cowardly manner,” said Day, a former law enforcement officer.
Day paid a Tuesday visit to Turtle Boo, noting that he wanted to extend a face to face show of solidarity.
“To engage in that kind of behavior was wrong beyond belief,” said Day. “I wanted to let them know that they are not alone and that they have the full support of my office.”
Caleb Von Schloer of Turtle Boo said that he recognized the county executive when he came in to the facility. While he appreciated Day’s visit, Von Schloer said that local businesses have been hard hit by the countywide state of emergency called by Day, with customers cancelling planned birthday parties at Turtle Boo and choosing to stay home because of the measles outbreak.
Monsey has been particularly hard hit in the measles outbreak, with the pro-immunization and anti-vax communities finding themselves frequently at odds. Hundreds of women attended a symposium featuring prominent anti-vaxxers sponsored by an unknown group on May 15th at the Atrium Plaza as previously reported on VIN News (http://bit.ly/2VYkTws). A pro-vaccination event endorsed by Chai Lifeline, Hatzolah of Rockland County and Bikur Cholim of Rockland County is scheduled to take place at the same hall on June 3rd.
Day’s visit to Turtle Boo took place on the same day that he announced Rockland County’s third consecutive state of emergency which will remain in effect through June 24th. To date, 43 individuals and 24 schools have been found to be in violation of two Department of Health orders that are part of the state of emergency but the county has yet to issue any fines which could add up to as much as $2,000 per day for each violation.
4,624 people have been vaccinated since the first state of emergency was announced on March 26th but the number of reported cases of measles in Rockland continues to rise, reaching 254 as of May 28th.