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Scam Alert: Mask Exemption Cards from "Freedom To Breathe Agency" Are Fake
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PHILADELPHIA, Pa. (WLVT) - The Department of Justice is warning that internet postings claiming to offer face mask exemption cards are fake.

While some of the posts include the department’s seal, the DOJ says they had nothing to do with these posts and don’t endorse them. The cards claim authority from the “Freedom to Breathe Agency," which is not a government agency.

Some of the posts have the DOJ insignia, which prompted the department to release a statement saying, in part: "The postings were not issued by the department and are not endorsed by the department.”

Dr. Ebbing Lautenbach, chief of infectious diseases at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, says people should keep wearing face masks as a preventative measure.

"We are by no means anywhere near the end of dealing with the COVID pandemic," Lautenbach told PBS39. "If you’re out in public, you should wear a face mask. It’s been well demonstrated that face coverings prevent droplets from spreading when you cough or sneeze. Wearing a mask should not be a political statement. It is simply doing your part to stop the spread of the virus."


Wearing a mask in Pennsylvania is not a state law. If you’re visiting a business in the Commonwealth, you are required to wear a mask under directives issued by Gov. Tom Wolf. The rule applies unless you have an underlying health condition that prevents you from wearing a mask. Children two or younger are not required to wear masks.

"If you’re a little kid, under two years old, wearing a mask is certainly challenging," said Dr. Cindy Hou, infection control officer at Jefferson Health New Jersey. "For people with certain lung conditions, wearing a mask is not possible. We have to think of Covid-19 as a respiratory illness, it can be spread through droplets. The only way to inhale it is through my nose and mouth and it then goes into the lung passages. So, if you block those areas, there’s a good chance that COVID-19 won’t get into you."


PBS39 also found online posts that claim face masks can be harmful to the wearer, with some saying a person can get CO 2 poisoning from face masks. Hou says those claims are not true.

"In order to have something severe like carbon dioxide toxicity, you’d have to have a lot of it around you, and that just doesn’t happen when you wear a mask like this," explained Hou. "Even when it’s an industrial strength mask or a face shield."

If you don’t wear a mask and try to enter a business in Pennsylvania, you may be denied entry by the owner.

PBS39 News Reports