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Expand chart
Data: Adapted from a CDC chart; Chart: Axios Visuals

Measles cases in the U.S. this year are "certainly going to surpass those in 2018," mainly due to the lack of vaccination in certain groups, Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, tells Axios.

Why this matters: The extremely contagious virus, which can cause serious complications like pneumonia, brain swelling and even occasional death, requires a vaccination rate of 93%–95% in order to prevent outbreaks. "Whenever the level of vaccination gets below a certain level, you will get outbreaks," Fauci says.

Driving the news: Rockland County in New York rocked the nation when it declared a local state of emergency starting Wednesday, with a directive barring unvaccinated children under 18 from countywide public spaces unless they are under 6 months or have a medical exemption..

  • The community — which only had a 72.9% vaccination rate in those under 18 — is paying the price with 156 cases reported as of March 28.
  • John Lyon, spokesperson for Rockland County Executive Ed Day, says the directive is considered a Class B misdemeanor, which could have up to a $500 fine and 90 days in jail.
  • "We don't want to put any people in jail, though. That's insane," Lyon tells Axios.
  • But, he adds, they needed to take action after the outbreak had gone on for 6 months and there was growing resistance to their efforts to track the whereabouts of infected people the 4 days before and 4 days after they got a fever when they were contagious.
  • The reason this is needed, Lyon adds, is to inform the public if they were near those places, so they could take action to protect themselves from the worst of the virus by either getting a vaccination or immunoglobulin shot to boost immunity.
  • They are already seeing a large uptick in vaccinations since Wednesday morning, he reports.

Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows outbreaks reported in New York City, Washington State, Texas, Illinois and California.

The bottom line: "Unfortunately, it will take the reality of the deleterious consequences of non-vaccination in communities" before the outbreak will stop, Fauci says. "This is a virus that can kill you. Most children recover quite well but [some will not.]"

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Resurrecting Martin Luther King's office

King points to Selma, Alabama on a map at his Southern Christian Leadership Conference office in Atlanta in January 1965. Photo: Bettmann/Getty Contributor

Efforts to save the office where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., planned some of the most important moments of the civil rights movement are hitting roadblocks amid a political stalemate.

Why it matters: The U.S. Park Service needs to OK agreements so a developer restoring the historic Prince Hall Masonic Lodge in Atlanta — which once housed King's Southern Christian Leadership Conference — can tap into private funding and begin work.

Off the Rails

Episode 4: Trump turns on Barr

Photo illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photos: Drew Angerer, Pool/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. Axios takes you inside the collapse of a president with a special series.

Episode 4: Trump torches what is arguably the most consequential relationship in his Cabinet.

Attorney General Bill Barr stood behind a chair in the private dining room next to the Oval Office, looming over Donald Trump. The president sat at the head of the table. It was Dec. 1, nearly a month after the election, and Barr had some sharp advice to get off his chest. The president's theories about a stolen election, Barr told Trump, were "bullshit."

In photos: Protests outside fortified capitols draw only small groups

Armed members of the far-right extremist group the Boogaloo Bois near the Michigan Capitol Building in Lansing on Jan. 17. About 20 protesters showed up, AP notes. Photo: Seth Herald/AFP via Getty Images

Small groups of protesters gathered outside fortified statehouses across the U.S. over the weekend ahead of President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration Wednesday.

The big picture: Some protests attracted armed members of far-right extremist groups but there were no reports of clashes, as had been feared. The National Guard and law enforcement outnumbered demonstrators, as security was heightened around the U.S. to avoid a repeat of the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riots, per AP.

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