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Waiting for patients at the Rockland County Health Department in April. Photo: Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images

Health officials from Rockland County — the New York community that's been a focal point in the recent battle over measles due to its low vaccination rate — announced Wednesday that the outbreak there is over.

Why it matters: The latest measles outbreak in America is the largest since 1992, and public health officials have been concerned the U.S. could lose the "measles elimination status" it earned in 2000. But the U.S. may "scrape through just under the wire" and retain its status as long as no new cases are reported in New York state in September, a spokesperson for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tells Axios.

How it works: The World Health Organization and Pan American Health Organization automatically rescind a country's elimination status if there's been an outbreak in an area for 12 months.

  • As long as no new cases are reported in Orange County, New York, before the Oct. 1 deadline, the U.S. should be able to retain its status, a CDC spokesperson tells Axios. The county last reported a measles case Aug. 19, and there needs to be 42 days before the outbreak is considered over.
  • Per CDC, the outbreak was declared done in New York City on Sept. 3, in El Paso, Texas, on Sept. 12, and in Wyoming County, New York, on Sept. 19.
  • The CDC says 1,241 cases were confirmed in 31 states between Jan. 1 and Sept. 19.

The latest: Rockland County officials announced Wednesday that "measles is over" in the county.

  • The county imposed strict rules and fines and began an education campaign to address the problem. This included the requirement of 2 MMR vaccines for all staff and campers for summer camps in the county. There were no measles infections reported in those campers, county health commissioner Patricia Schnabel Ruppert said.
  • Ruppert said the high rate of unvaccinated people in the county was partially due to anti-vaxers who refused to participate, but added that the majority were those who were vaccine hesitant and trying to "create their own schedule."
  • "It's essential all children are vaccinated on time," Ruppert said.
  • The first measles case in Rockland was identified on Oct. 1, 2018, with the last rash onset from measles identified on Aug. 13.

But, but, but: Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, tells Axios the vaccination rate in the U.S. is roughly 91%–92% nationwide but needs to be 93%–95% to get the "herd immunization" to prevent an outbreak.

  • The main concern is in communities where there's 70%–80% immunization, he says, plus the continued, active anti-vaccination movement.
"Are we out of the woods? No. Because we still have gaps in our immunization rates, particularly in certain groups. It's dramatically decreased, but you know you are [definitely] out of the woods when you don't have any cases."
— Anthony Fauci

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Updated 12 mins ago - World

Biden reviews U.S. arms deals with Saudi Arabia and UAE

Trump struck several large arms deals with Mohammed bin Salman (L) and Saudi Arabia. Photo: Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images

The Biden administration has put on hold two big arms deals with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates which were approved in the final weeks of the Trump administration, a State Department official told Axios.

Why it matters: The sales of F-35 jets and attack drones to the UAE and a large supply of munitions to Saudi Arabia will be paused pending a review. That signals a major policy shift from the Trump era, and may herald sharp tensions with both Gulf countries.

Trump supporter found with pipe bombs accused of plot to attack Democrats

Five improvised explosive devices that the FBI says "were fully operational and could cause great bodily harm or injury if handled improperly." Photo: FBI/Justice Department

The FBI believes California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) and the Bay Area headquarters of Twitter and Facebook were targets of a man facing federal explosives charges, according to a criminal complaint.

Driving the news: Prosecutors charged Ian Benjamin Rogers after finding weapons including five pipe bombs, 49 guns and thousands of rounds of ammunition following a Jan. 15 search of his Napa County home and auto repair business. His alleged goal was to ensure former President Trump remained in office.

4 hours ago - Health

Fauci: COVID vaccine rollout needs to prioritize people of color

Anthony Fauci. Photo: Alex Wong via Getty Images

Infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci highlighted the need to address racial disparities in the COVID-19 vaccination process, per an interview with The New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday.

What he’s saying: "I think that's the one thing we really got to be careful of. We don't want in the beginning ... most of the people who are getting it are otherwise, well, middle-class white people."

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