The Department of Justice has issued a clarification after some social media users spread disinformation about the use of masks amid the coronavirus pandemic.
As cases of COVID-19 spike throughout the country, several states, counties and cities have issued mandates requiring masks in public — and local media reports from across the country indicate that Facebook users in those areas may have seen a viral post containing inaccurate information.
While regulations differ from state to state and city to city, many local governments have determined those with pre-existing conditions that would make wearing a mask difficult are exempt from the ordinances. But some viral Facebook posts indicate that the Department of Justice has required exemption cards for those who cannot wear masks.
Many of the viral posts contain a screenshot of the "card," containing the Department of Justice seal and a reference to the "Freedom to Breathe Agency."
"The Department of Justice has been made aware of postings or flyers on the internet regarding the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the use of face masks due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many of which include the Department of Justice's seal. These postings were not issued by the Department and are not endorsed by the Department," the DOJ said on its website.
The Freedom To Breathe Agency refers to a private Facebook group opposed to government restrictions related to COVID-19 with about 7,000 members. A website listed on the "card" for the agency is not currently active.
The Department of Justice recommends visiting Americans with Disabilities Act website for the latest updates from the department.