The Department of Justice has confirmed that one of the latest trends in the movement to rej-ect face-covering requirements is not backed by the government, despite cla-ims to the contr-ary.
The trend in question, started by the an-ti-mask group the Freedom to Breathe Agency, is a card that cla-ims the holder is “exempt” from wearing a mask, citing the Americans with Disa-bilities Act (ADA). However, the official government website of the ADA recently announced that these cards are, in fact, “fra-udulent.”
“The Department of Justice has been made aware of postings or flyers on the internet regarding the Americans with Disa-bilities A-ct and the use of face masks due to the COVID-19 pande-mic, many of which include the Department of Justice’s seal,” the statement read.
“These postings were not issued by the Department and are not endo-rsed by the Department,” it continued. “The Department urges the public not to re-ly on the information contained in these postings and to visit ADA.gov for ADA information issued by the Department.”
Lenka Koloma, the founder of the Freedom to Breathe Agency, told TODAY that the cards never stated that they were issued by the ADA or the DOJ, and that these names were only mentioned to “tell people the references under which they are protected.”
“The FTBA card was issued so people are aware of their rights,” she said. Printable versions of these cards have been shared widely on Twitter and Facebook.
One version reads: “I am exempt from any ordi-nance requiring face mask usage in public. Wearing a face mask poses a me-ntal and/or physi-cal ri-sk to me. Under the Americans with Disa-bility Act (ADA), I am not required to disclose my condition to you.”
It also encourages individuals to call the Department of Justice to report any vi-olations of the ADA and so-called that organizations and businesses in vi-olation of the ADA could face “steep penal-ties,” including fees of up to $150,000. It adds that the Freedom to Breathe Agency will take “further ac-tion” agai-nst any businesses denying admittance to people with the card who won’t wear masks.
In early April, the Centers for Dise-ase Control and Prevention began recommending that individuals wear cloth face coverings in public due to the pande-mic. Since then, many states, cities, and stores have issued requirements that people must wear masks in public or on their prem-ises.
For example, Costco instituted such a policy in May. And last week, the California Department of Public Health issued guidance requiring face coverings in “high-ri-sk situations.” On Tuesday, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced a statewide ma-ndate requiring facial coverings in public.
Research shows that face masks are effe-ctive at reducing the spread of the Covid-19. A recent study found the ri-sk of tran-smitting the Covid-19 is 17.4 percent without a mask, social distancing, or any other preventive measures. Add a mask or respirator, and that number drops to 3.1 percent.
This Article First Published On TODAY