DOJ warns ‘face mask exempt’ cards are phony

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) is issuing a warning regarding those who may see a card or flyer stating that the owner is exempt from wearing face masks. The information was not issued or endorsed by the DOJ.

A card circulating online by group calling themselves the Freedom to Breathe Agency, claiming the holder is lawfully exempt from wearing a mask endorsed by the American with Disabilites Act, is simply not valid. Health experts and the DOJ are also urging the public not to believe the claim that wearing a mask will incur mental or physical risk, as described by the exemption card being distributed online. The information on the card also claims that the Americans with Disabilities Act forbids asking about the cardholder’s health condition aggravated by wearing a mask. The card threatens that if questions are asked, financial penalties of up to $75,000 or higher can be levied.

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An official alert from the Department of Justice and the American With Disabilities Act states that they are not the distributors nor endorse the information on these cards that are being distributed by the group. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the wearing of a face mask when going out in public as a way to slow the spread of COVID-19, along with social distancing and hand washing. The CDC has several tips regarding ways to stay healthy.

For the most up to date information on rules regarding face masks in your area, check with your local government website. Be wary of claims circulating on social media. Talk to your personal health professional about protecting yourself against disease.

Business owners can find resources BBB.org/smallbusiness.

Consumers looking for tips and resources can go to BBB.org/coronavirus.

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Erica joins the ABC 36 family as a Co-Anchor of Good Morning Kentucky weekday mornings from 5am-7am with Cody Adams and Good Day Kentucky weekday mornings from 9am to 10am. Erica also anchors News at Midday from 12-12:30pm. She is also a Web and Social Media Content Producer. Erica graduated in three and a half years from Michigan State University with a Bachelor's degree in Broadcast Journalism and specialization in Women, Gender and Social Justice. Although she hails from Michigan, Erica has worked as a News Reporter/Sports Anchor for the CBS-affiliate in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. Prior to that, she worked for a PBS-affiliate there covering all types of news – even providing live reports for The Weather Channel during her first hurricane. She then moved to Lake Charles, Louisiana and worked as the Weekend Anchor/Reporter at KPLC, the NBC/FOX/CW affiliate. Erica comes to Lexington from the Huntington area where she worked at WSAZ, an NBC/CW affiliate in West Virginia, as a weekday evening anchor covering the tri states of Ohio and Kentucky as well. In addition to her background on TV, Erica has worked in radio, served as the PA announcer for the Class A "Lansing Lugnuts" and hosted Carnival parades in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Some of her favorite hobbies include running, reading, hiking, spending time with her husband and taking pictures of their furbabies. Erica is big on community involvement, having served as a board member for Dress for Success, volunteered as a Big with Big Brothers Big Sisters, worked on the Mayor's Armed Forces Commission in Lake Charles and hosted countless events. She hopes you can connect with her on Facebook: EricaBivensTV and on Twitter: @ericabivens or Instagram: erica.bivens. You can also email her at ebivens@wtvq.com. Please send all event inquiries via email. Erica is excited to explore Lexington and the outdoors and - of course - meet all of you!