The Latest MAGA Craze: Faking A Disability To Get Out Of Wearing Masks
In early May, a thread of social media posts began instructing “COVID-19 skeptics (many of them conspiracy theorists or conservatives) to lie about having a medical condition in order to avoid masking up,” according to The Daily Beast.
- For example, Shelly Lewis told a Gelson’s worker, “Hi, I have a medical condition that I’m not allowed to wear a mask, and I’m not required by HIPAA rules and regulations.” After the manager refused to let her in the store, she said, “You’re discriminating against me” and “You guys are gonna get a lawsuit.”
- The social media posts told readers to cite laws like the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) to trick people who ask them to wear protective face masks.
- Another image consisted of flyers that readers could print and hand out to employees who refused to let them in stores or other public places without wearing a mask.
These false disability claims undermine regulations for those with legitimate disabilities, and could put others in danger.
- Lawrence Gostin, a Georgetown University professor in public health law, said some people have real health concerns such as “asthma, or other significant respiratory problems” that give them ADA protection to avoid a mask. “But you need to be able to demonstrate that you’re disabled. It can’t be an idle claim,” Gostin told The Daily Beast.
- Other posts called such claims a “mask loophole,” and posted images which directed readers to follow a script: claiming they had a medical condition that prohibited wearing a mask, and saying that HIPAA regulations protect them from having to answer further questions – which is not how HIPAA works.
- However, if a person were to actually be medically unable to wear a mask, “it would only be doubly important for those around them to wear protective equipment,” wrote The Daily Beast.
The “anti-mask pass” health hoax is spreading disinformation among Americans and can seriously endanger the lives of vulnerable individuals.
“A person with asthma or other respiratory problems is a highly vulnerable individual,” Gostin stated. “If they were to get COVID-19, it’d be a stronger likelihood that they might get a very serious illness, resulting in hospitalization or death. They’re more likely to contract the illness if exposed, so we need widespread masking to protect persons with disabilities.”