The Justice Department is warning Americans to be on the lookout for fraudulent ‘face mask exemption’ cards that bear the agency’s logo.
The US Attorney’s Office in Maine released a statement on its social media feed saying that cards claiming to offer an exemption from wearing face coverings are fake.
The office posted an image showing a card that has the Justice Department logo.
‘I am exempt from any ordinance requiring face mask usage in public,’ the ID reads.
The federal government is warning Americans to be on the lookout for fake ‘face mask exempt cards’ like the one above
The Justice Department says that cards bearing the DOJ logo (like the one above) are fake
Protesters in New York City wear face masks outside City Hall on Saturday
‘Wearing a face mask poses mental and/or physical risk to me.’
The ID also has a sentence in bold letters which reads: ‘Under the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) I am not required to disclose any medical conditions to you.’
The card also has a ‘Department of Justice ADA Violation Reporting Number’.
The 800-phone number listed is the ADA information line.
Another ‘exemption’ that has been making the rounds is one that claims to be from the Freedom to Breathe Agency.
There is no government agency which goes by that name.
‘If found in violation of the ADA you could face steep penalties,’ the card reads.
‘Organizations and businesses can be fined up to $75,000 for your first violation and $150,000 for any subsequent violations.’
Violating the ADA does carry those penalties, but face masks do not fall under the law’s jurisdiction.
The ‘Freedom to Breathe Agency’ has a Facebook page on which it claims to be a ‘movement of proud American citizens who are dedicated to protecting their freedom and liberty.’
The group also claims that ‘wearing a mask is an unhealthy obstruction of oxygen flow that can lead to hypoxemia and hypoxia, can permanently damage the brain, lungs, heart and about any organ.
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar (right) defended Donald Trump’s decision to not wear a face covering in public during an interview on Sunday in which he claimed the president is tested regularly so wearing a mask isn’t necessary
‘We must protect our birth right (sic) to breathe. This is NOT negotiable.
‘FTBA is an agency designed to stop face mask orders from spreading nationwide and globally.’
These claims are false.
In California, the San Luis Obispo County Public Health Department warned residents last week that cards claiming to exempt the holder from a state order requiring face coverings in public are fake.
‘These postings were not issued by the department and are not endorsed by the department,’ the county said.
‘The department urges the public not to rely on the information contained in these postings and to visit ada.gov for ADA [Americans with Disabilities Act] information issued by the Department.’
Trump (pictured on June 26 during a meeting of the American Workforce Policy Advisory Board) has continued to face mounting bipartisan pressure to set an example for the American people by wearing a face mask
Face coverings have become a partisan issue in the United States, where parts of the country are seeing explosive new rises in the number of COVID-19 cases.
But there now appears to be a growing consensus in the US that face masks are the most effective way available at the moment to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.
President Donald Trump faced mounting bipartisan pressure Sunday to set an example by wearing a face mask, as his health secretary warned the ‘window is closing’ to gain control of an explosion of infections in conservative-led US states.
New coronavirus cases have been surging in more than half of US states, reaching record new highs after months of mitigation efforts applied unevenly across the country and sometimes contradictory messaging from the government.
Hardest hit have been southern and western states that pushed for early economic re-openings.
But the latest upsurge, pushing the nation’s total of declared cases over 2.5 million and its death toll past 125,000, has prompted a growing chorus of calls for much tougher rules and enforcement.
‘This is a very, very serious situation and the window is closing for us to take action and get this under control,’ Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said on CNN.
Azar was asked why Trump has refused to set an example by wearing a protective mask in public – even when standing next to mask-wearing health advisers – and reiterated the White House explanation that the president is tested daily and is ‘in a unique position’ as a world leader.
But many Republicans who are normally reluctant to criticize the president have been calling more insistently for mask use, with some urging a clearer example from the nation’s leader.
‘If wearing masks is important, and all the health experts tell us that it is… it would help if from time to time the president would wear one to help us get rid of this political debate that says if you’re for Trump, you don’t wear a mask, if you’re against Trump, you do,’ Republican Senator Lamar Alexander said Sunday on CNN.
In some areas, mask-wearing has taken on a political edge rather than being seen as a straightforward health choice.
Among Republicans calling strongly for mask-wearing are Senator Marco Rubio of Florida – which has set daily records of new COVID-19 cases; Senate leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky; and Governor Greg Abbott of Texas, another state that has seen a major uptick in cases after moving aggressively to reopen its economy.
In Phoenix, Governor Doug Ducey wore a mask on Thursday when he warned fellow Arizonans that ‘we are getting hit hard right now.’
The best defense against COVID-19, he told local media, is to wear protective masks.