SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – The New Mexico Department of Health announced Wednesday fraudulent exemption cards are being distributed to the public that states the holder of the card is exempt from wearing a facemask despite public health orders requiring it. NMDOH says the card is not officially recognized by the department. NMDOH also says 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 in a press release. “New Mexicans deserve to feel safe out in public, and fraudulent messaging like this is both illegal and potentially dangerous to people’s health.”
NMDOH says these cards falsely claims to be issued by NMDOH and the U.S. Department of Justice. NMDOH says anyone fraudulently creating or using these cards could result in being charged with a 4th-degree felony.
NMDOH says 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.
According to the NMDOH, 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, and 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
In the same press release, NMDOH is working with the New Mexico Office of the Attorney General to ensure anyone issuing fraudulent exemption cards is prosecuted appropriately.
To report violations of public health or executive orders, you can do so anonymously by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. When submitting a complaint, please be sure to provide the following:
- Date and time of the observed violation
- City and County
- Business name and address