Cards for sale that claim to exempt people from wearing masks during the coronavirus pandemic are fraudulent, federal officials have said.
The cards – with a red, white and blue eagle logo and about the size of a business card – indicate that the wearer is exempt from orders requiring them to wear masks in public.
“Wearing a face mask presents a mental and / or physical risk for me. Under the Americans with Disability Act (ADA), I am not required to disclose my condition to you, “reads the card, which misspelled” poses “and incorrectly names the Americans with Disabilities Act.
There is also a warning that businesses or organizations can be reported to Freedom to Breathe, the group behind the maps. One version of the cards displayed the Department of Justice logo and indicated a legitimate telephone number where complaints about violations of the Disabled Americans Act can be made.
Cards were sold online in boxes of at least 500 for $ 49.99.
But these cards and leaflets have not been issued or approved by the Department of Justice, said federal officials.
“Don’t be fooled by the chicane and misappropriation of the DOJ eagle,” said Matthew GT Martin, the US attorney for the North Carolina Middle District. “These cards do not have the force of law. The Freedom to Breathe Agency or FTBA is not a government agency. “
Mr. Martin’s statement made no mention of the charges arising from the cards, and the group that distributed them said that no legal action had been taken against her.
The cards were created in response to complaints, said the group’s communications team in an email, and as “an educational tool” to help people “understand their legal and human rights so that they can resist illegal, unscientific and unconstitutional mandates. “
The communications team refused to provide an appointed spokesperson, citing concerns about “the safety of our key members”. The group said it had received hundreds of reports and continued to obtain them daily from people who did not want to wear masks and that because of this, they were “denied access, discriminated against” , degraded, intimidated and coerced “.
“These are people who have health problems where wearing a face mask exposes them to a significant health risk,” added the group.
the The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend wearing cloth face covers in public places to help reduce the spread of the coronavirus. Video of an episode Friday in a Trader Joe’s Store in California was the last case of consumers resistance to facial mask strategies at shops.
Freedom to Breathe agency founder Lenka Koloma announced the cards on her Facebook page, and they were sold on a site created via the Shopify commerce platform. The site was not available on Sunday afternoon.
“Shopify takes concerns about the goods and services made available by merchants on our platform very seriously,” company spokeswoman Sheryl So. “We have several teams that deal with potential violations of Shopify Acceptable Use Policy, including malicious and deceptive practices. “
The original Facebook group and a website on the Wix platform for the agency Freedom to Breathe have also been deleted. Facebook and Wix could not be reached immediately on Sunday.
The group behind the cards said it had asked for support and information from Wix and had been subjected to “illegal and unconstitutional Facebook censorship”.
Facebook announced Wednesday its intention to fight against coronavirus disinformation, connecting people with credible information about its apps, investing $ 100 million in the information industry, and supporting fact checkers.