What We Know About Fake “Mask Exempt” Cards

Public health experts agree that wearing a face mask when going out in public is one of the best ways to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Unfortunately, for many, wearing a mask has become a political issue. In recent months, the President, his Republican allies, and far-right fringe groups have pushed back against this idea.

As it turns out, large sections of the population seem to be leaving their face coverings at home.

There’s even a fake “mask exempt” disability card spreading around the Internet. Carriers use this card to get out of wearing a mask, even though the information is fraudulent. Find who’s wearing a mask and why this fake card is causing so much trouble.

Who’s Wearing Masks?

As the pandemic stretches on, we’re starting to collect more data on who’s complying with the latest safety guidelines, and who’s not. According to the Pew Research Center, around two-thirds of adults say they regularly wear a face mask when going out in public, but less than half say most are doing this in their area.

Politics can have a lot to do with the issue as well. Liberal Democrats are the most likely to say that they regularly wear a mask when going outside (83%). Conservative Republicans are the least likely to say the same, coming in at just 49%.

Caucasian Americans also seem to be less inclined to wear masks than communities of color. 62% of white adults say they wore a mask in stores or other businesses all or most of the time in the past month, compared with 69% of black adults, 74% of Hispanic adults and 80% of Asian adults.

Highly educated individuals also seem to be more likely to take precautions when going outside. In fact, 76% of those with a college degree say they regularly wear masks, while just 60% of those without a college degree say the same. Unsurprisingly, older individuals and those with pre-existing conditions are more likely to follow the rules as well, compared to others.

Fake “Mask Exempt” Cards

Some people feel so strongly about not wearing a mask that they will go to great lengths to get out of wearing one. Hundreds of fake “mask exempt” cards have started popping up all over the country in recent weeks. It says that the person can’t wear a mask due to medical issues and that wearing one could incur physical and mental risks for the carrier. It also cites the American Disabilities Act (ADA), which forbids others from asking questions about the person’s disease.

When presented with a card, officials and business owners usually don’t know what to say. They tend to be afraid of asking questions as it could amount to discrimination under the ADA. The card comes with a stern warning:

“If found in violation of the ADA you could face steep penalties. Organizations and businesses can be fined up to $75,000 for your first violation and $150,000 for any subsequent violations. Denying access to your business/organization will be also reported to FTBA for further actions.”

The cards have been traced back to a fake online group called the “Freedom to Breathe Agency,” which is not a real agency. It even comes with the official crest of the U.S. Justice Department.

However, the Justice Department says it was not involved in the making of the cards. It issued an alert over the weekend urging officials and the public not to heed the information on the cards, as it is fraudulent.

Most of the time, if a person has a disability or underlying health conditions, wearing a mask becomes all the more important. If you or someone you know is confronted with this card, it’s better to visit the ADA website to learn more about your rights.

Wearing a mask might make some people feel uncomfortable, but it is a small price to pay when it comes to protecting their health. No one should be put at risk due to a fake disability. Watch out for these cards as you try to keep your community safe.

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