Category: New York

Amid measles outbreak, New York ends religious exemptions for vaccines

Amid an ongoing measles outbreak, New York is requiring schoolchildren to be vaccinated, even if parents have religious objections.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation Thursday that removes nonmedical exemptions from school vaccination requirements. The law goes into effect immediately, his office said.

The move, which comes despite opposition from anti-vaccination activists and religious freedom advocates, puts New York alongside other states that do not allow nonmedical exemptions: California, Mississippi, West Virginia and Maine.

“The science is crystal clear: Vaccines are safe, effective and the best way to keep our children safe. This administration has taken aggressive action to contain the measles outbreak, but given its scale, additional steps are needed to end this public health crisis,” Cuomo said in a statement Thursday.

“While I understand and respect freedom of religion, our first job is to protect the public health and by signing this measure into law, we will help prevent further transmissions and stop this outbreak right in its tracks,” he said.

Cuomo signed the bill immediately after the Legislature passed it; the Senate voted 36-26 and the Assembly voted 77-53. The bills were introduced in January.

“We are dealing with a public health emergency that requires immediate action,” state Sen. Brad Hoylman, sponsor of the Senate bill, said during the vote.

New York has become the epicenter of a measles outbreak in the United States that is now in its ninth month. More than 800 people in New York have become sick, and New Yorkers have infected people in four other states.

This year, 1,022 measles cases have been confirmed in 28 states, marking the greatest number of cases reported in the country since 1992 and since the measles virus was declared eliminated in the country in 2000, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The states that have reported cases to the CDC are Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Mexico, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Tennessee, Virginia, and Washington.

Regarding the new legislation, “this is a great step forward in protecting the public health here in New York,” Ed Day, Rockland County executive, said in a written statement. His county is among those with the highest number of measles cases in the state.

“This law should lead to a substantial increase in vaccination rates and to improved protection of our most vulnerable residents; infants, the immunocompromised and those who have legitimate medical issues. With Rockland being an epicenter of the current measles outbreak, we greatly appreciate that our advocacy and local efforts were heard and acknowledged,” he said.

Most of the cases in New York have been in Orthodox Jewish communities In Brooklyn and Queens with low vaccination rates.

Health authorities in New York say they’ve faced formidable challenges to quell the outbreak: anti-vaxers who specifically targeted the state’s ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, bombarding them with lies that vaccines cause autism.

“We are now countering not only the vector of the measles virus, but we’re countering the vector of the anti-vaxers, and that message — that insidious message — is just as challenging as the most contagious virus on the face of the earth,” said Dr. Oxiris Barbot, commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

New York health authorities face an additional challenge: ultra-Orthodox Jews travel frequently to Israel and Europe, where there have been more than 100,000 measles cases this year.

When asked whether she thought the outbreak would end by the fall in order to keep the country’s measles elimination status intact, Barbot didn’t answer.

“We are working every day, day and night, to ensure that we get the message out that vaccines are safe, effective, and the best way to keep families and communities safe,” she said.

Doctors found tapeworm egg in woman’s brain — and cheered

NEW YORK – A New York woman was super pumped to learn she had a “gross” tapeworm egg in her brain—because it meant the lump wasn’t a cancerous tumor as doctors had suspected.

“What we saw in surgery was not at all what we were expecting,” Dr. Jonathan Rasouli, a neurosurgeon at Mount Sinai Hospital, tells Live Science.

Rachel Palma, 42, had gone to the doctor in January 2018 describing some bizarre symptoms. She’d suddenly drop items with her right hand, fail to remember certain words, even try to call dead relatives, per WABC. She also suffered hallucinations and “horrific nightmares,” reports Today.

An MRI then revealed a lesion on the left hemisphere of her brain—the part that controls language and speech in right-handed people—which Rasouli thought “could potentially be cancerous,” per Live Science.

With Palma under the knife in September, however, Rasouli saw, not soft tissue, but what looked like a marble-sized quail egg. The discovery that it was a pork tapeworm egg brought cheers from doctors, per WABC.

“It was one of those rare situations where you see a parasite and you’re like, ‘Wow, this is great!’” Rasouli tells Today.

There’s still the mystery of how the egg got into brain of the Middletown woman, who might’ve been fine with antibiotics rather than a three-hour brain surgery. The pork tapeworm is “super rare” in the US, “like once in a blue moon,” according to Rasouli, and Palma has never traveled outside of the country.

She also didn’t recall consuming undercooked meat. Still, she tries not to focus on the source. “I stopped asking questions and started celebrating and making the most out of life,” she tells WABC. (A teen just died of the same condition.)

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Woman killed in New York apartment fire survived previous home blazes, family tragedy

NEW YORK — A woman who was killed in a blaze at her Harlem apartment early Wednesday, along with her children, had survived two previous fires, family members confirmed to WPIX.

Andrea Pollidore, 45, her four children — two girls, ages 11 and 6, and two boys, ages 8 and 3 — and a 33-year-old man believed to be the woman’s stepson, were killed overnight when a fire that began on a kitchen stove tore through their New York City Housing Authority apartment.

The blaze consumed the fifth-floor home shortly after 1:30 a.m., fire officials said.

FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro said the victims were found dead in two separate bedrooms.

The cause of the fire appears to have been a stove burner left on, fire officials said, adding that so far there is no indication the fire is suspicious.

Family members said Andrea Pollidore is no stranger to tragedy.

Nineteen years ago, Pollidore was severely burned on her arms and hands when her home caught fire. Then, three years ago, the Brooklyn brownstone where Pollidore lived with her family was destroyed by a fire and they were forced to move to their NYCHA apartment in Harlem.

WPIX also learned that Pollidore’s brother, 21-year-old Kristen McKenzie, was shot and killed by an off-duty cop at a Brooklyn nightclub in March 2007.

Pollidore spoke to the New York Times after the shooting, saying McKenzie moved to Brooklyn from Trinidad two or three years prior, and worked in construction.

“It’s a very painful day for our city,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a news conference Wednesday morning. “As a father, hearing that four children were lost in a single family is extremely painful.”

Six female officers charged with illegally strip searching women at New York jail

NEW YORK — Six female corrections officers have been charged with illegally strip searching women who visited the Manhattan Detention Center, the Manhattan District Attorney’s office announced Monday.

According to court documents, the corrections officers routinely strip searched female visitors without their consent. This included forcing the visitors to remove their pants and underwear, touching the visitors’ breasts, and examining the visitors’ private areas.

Leslie-Ann Absalom 53, a former DOC captain, and DOC officers Daphne Farmer, 49, Jennifer George, 32, Lisette Rodriguez, 51, Alifa Waiters, 45, and Latoya Shuford, 36, have been all charged with official misconduct, unlawful imprisonment, conspiracy and various counts of filing false documents.

In order to cover up the unlawful searches, four of the officers filed false paperwork with the DOC and the Manhattan DA’s office claiming the visitors gave consent for the strip search, prosecutors said.

The paperwork led to the arrest of three visitors whose charges were based on the illegal searches.

“There is no excuse for violating the human rights of New Yorkers visiting our City’s jails,” District Attorney Cy Vance said. “As alleged, these officers flagrantly abused their power when they ignored their training and subjected visitors to humiliating and unlawful searches. Further, they attempted to cover up their actions by forcing visitors to sign consent forms under false pretenses, and repeatedly lying in official documents.”

Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association  President Elias Husamudeen released the following statement:

“Manhattan Detention Center Correction Officers assigned to the Visit Area, arrested more than 50 visitors last year alone for attempting to smuggle in heroin, marijuana, cocaine, K-2 synthetic, razors, scalpels and other contraband. Everyday they do everything they can to keep this jail safe for visitors, inmates and correction staff. They deserve more public support for the diligent professionalism they exude every day.”

‘The Situation’ of MTV’s ‘Jersey Shore’ posts to Instagram while in prison for tax fraud

‘The Situation’ of MTV’s ‘Jersey Shore’ posts to Instagram while in prison for tax fraud

“Jersey Shore” cast member Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino is in the middle of an eight-month sentence in federal prison for tax fraud, but it isn’t stopping him from posting pictures to his Instagram.

He posted in Instagram shots with his wife and with two of his Jersey Shore castmates, Vinny Guadagnino and DJ Pauly D.

“Tough Times Don’t Last, Tough People Do,” he captioned the pictures.

The photos were also posted to his Facebook page.

Guadagnino commented on the post: “Why this dude glowing more than me and he locked up,” he wrote.

DJ Pauly D also commented, “#FREEBDS !!!!!! Miss u my brother!!!”

Sorrentino reported to Otisville Federal Correctional Institution in upstate New York in January.

He and his brother were charged in 2014 with tax offenses related to nearly $9 million in income.

Sorrentino is housed in a minimum-security offender section of the prison.

Woman critically injured after falling five stories from Manhattan building while taking pictures

NEW YORK CITY — A 22-year-old woman fell five stories from a Manhattan building while taking pictures on Saturday night, police said.

She landed in a cramped, outdoor space next to the building. An air conditioning unit may have broken her fall.

She was rushed from the East 25th Street building to NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue after the incident around 8 p.m., officials said.

The woman suffered a fractured pelvis, a broken ankle and a broken arm, an NYPD spokesperson said. She’s in critical but stable condition at Bellevue.

Resident who live in the building say only people who live on the top floor have roof access. Many residents mentioned the 40-foot fatal fall at Fordham University. Sydney Monfries, who was a senior at the university, climbed the clock tower and was killed in the fall.

As of late 2018, more than 250 people have died around the world while taking selfies, according to a study published in the Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care.

Police: New York man raped girl multiple times at wife’s daycare

NEW YORK — Police arrested a 60-year-old man Wednesday and charged him with repeatedly raping a girl at a Bronx day care.

A 13-year-old girl came forward and said Alberto Hernandez raped her multiple times when she was between the ages of six and 10, an NYPD spokeswoman said. The alleged rapes happened at Maria Cortez Day Care, which Hernandez has owned and operated with his wife for the last 25 years.

The girl told a school staff member about the incident earlier this week, which was then reported to police, authorities said.

Hernandez, whose daycare is licensed, is now facing 13 charges.

Police said they hope any other potential victims will contact them.

93-year-old doctor still works, has no intention of slowing down

NEW YORK — Most people would relax as they celebrate a 93rd birthday, but Dr. Melissa Freeman has no intention of slowing down.

She’s practiced internal medicine for nearly 65 years and still works several days a week at her own medical practice in Manhattan. Freeman specializes in treating opioid addiction. That may sound like a lot for most, but not for Freeman.

“I do intend to do some other things,” she said. “I have to do more.”

She told WPIX she’s only doing what she’s “supposed to do.”

“That’s to reach out and help,” Freeman said. “As long as I have the opportunity, I know that I must continue to do it.”

Freeman is the granddaughter of a freed slave who, following the Emancipation Proclamation, moved to New York City to start a family.

She continues that tradition of excellence.