The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) is issuing a warning regarding those who may see a card or flyer stating that the owner is exempt from wearing face masks. The information was not issued or endorsed by the DOJ.
A card circulating online by a group calling themselves the Freedom to Breathe Agency, claiming the holder is lawfully exempt from wearing a mask endorsed by the American with Disabilites Act (ACA), is simply not valid.
Health experts and the DOJ are also urging the public not to believe the claim that wearing a mask will incur mental or physical risk, as described by the exemption card being distributed online.
The information on the card also claims that the ADA forbids asking about the cardholder's health condition aggravated by wearing a mask. The card threatens that if questions are asked, financial penalties of up to $75,000 or higher can be levied. According to David Tarrien, an associate professor at WMU-Cooley Law School, the ADA does not apply if there's a “direct threat” to someone's health or safety. HIPPA privacy laws also do not apply in this kind of situation. That only protects your information from being shared inappropriately among medical facilities.
An official alert from the Department of Justice and the American With Disabilities Act states that they are not the distributors nor endorse the information on these cards that are being distributed by the group. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the wearing of a face mask when going out in public as a way to slow the spread of COVID-19, along with social distancing and hand washing. The CDC has several tips regarding ways to stay healthy.
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