FACT CHECK: Viral Image Claims To Show A Government-Issued Face Mask Exemption Card

Elias Atienza | Fact Check Reporter

A viral Instagram post purportedly shows a government-issued laminated card claiming to exempt people from wearing face masks in public under the American with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Verdict: False

The laminated card is fraudulent. The Department of Justice (DOJ) said in a statement that it neither issued nor endorsed them.

Fact Check:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that Americans wear face coverings in public settings where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain to help curb the spread of the new coronavirus. Some states, including California and New York, mandate such face coverings, according to CNN.

In recent days, social media users have circulated flyers and laminated cards that claim to exempt them from following mask guidelines under the ADA. The alleged documents bear the DOJ seal and the logo for the Freedom to Breathe Agency.

“I am exempt from any ordinance requiring face mask usage in public. Wearing a mask posses (sic) a mental and/or physical risk to me,” reads one such card. “Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), I am not required to disclose my condition to you.”

The card goes on to say that businesses and organizations that deny the cardholder access will be reported to the Freedom to Breathe Agency. It also provides a real phone number for reporting ADA violations to the DOJ.

In a statement on the ADA website, the DOJ clarified that such laminated cards and flyers are “fraudulent.” (RELATED: Is Pennsylvania Fining And Jailing People For Not Wearing Masks In Public?

“These postings were not issued by the Department and are not endorsed by the Department,” reads the statement. “The Department urges the public not to rely on the information contained in these postings and to visit ADA.gov for ADA information issued by the Department.”

The Freedom to Breathe Agency is not a government agency. It is a “movement of proud American citizens who are dedicated to protecting their freedom and liberty,” according to an archived version of its website. That website no longer appears to exist.

Elias Atienza

Fact Check Reporter
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