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The original item was published from 8/12/2020 4:18:42 PM to 9/13/2020 12:00:01 AM.

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Posted on: August 12, 2020

[ARCHIVED] Department of Health Reports Counterfeit Face Mask Exemption Cards Distributed

Woman wearing a medical face Mask

The New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) reports fraudulent exemption cards are being distributed to the public that assert the holder of the card is exempt from wearing a facemask despite public health orders requiring it. These cards falsely purport to be issued by NMDOH and the U.S. Department of Justice. Anyone fraudulently creating and/or using these cards could result in being charged with a 4th degree felony. 

The card, prominently displaying both the NMDOH and U.S. Department of Justice logos, claims denial of the cardholder access to a business or organization despite not wearing a facemask will result in a fine – the opposite of all current orders in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The card is not officially recognized by the Department of Health. The U.S. Department of Justice has declared similar messaging distributed nationwide to be fraudulent. 

“People lying about a medical condition to get out of wearing a facemask literally puts their lives and that of those around them at risk,” said Department of Health Cabinet Secretary Kathy Kunkel. “New Mexicans deserve to feel safe out in public, and fraudulent messaging like this is both illegal and potentially dangerous to people’s health.”

COVID-19 is proving to cause unpredictable and potentially severe complications in random cases of otherwise seemingly healthy people to include damage to the heart, liver or kidneys. The virus is also known to cause severe illness for older adults or those with underlying conditions. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Department of Health understand wearing masks may not be possible for some residents to include 

  • The deaf or hard of hearing
  • People with intellectual or developmental disabilities
  • Younger children for extended periods of time

All individuals in the state are required to wear a mask or other multilayer face covering unless instruction from a healthcare provider can be provided. 

The Department of Health is working with the New Mexico Office of the Attorney General to ensure anyone issuing fraudulent exemption cards is prosecuted appropriately. 

If you are a citizen who wishes to report violations of public health or executive orders, you can do so anonymously by emailing covid.enforcement@state.nm.us. When submitting a complaint, please be sure to provide the following: 

  • Date and time of observed violation
  • City and County 
  • Business name and address

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