SANTA FE, N.M. (WR) — New Mexico well being officers are warning residents that fraudulent face masks exemption playing cards are being distributed to the general public.

The playing cards falsely purport to be issued by the New Mexico Division of Well being and the U.S. Justice Division, and officers say anybody caught creating or utilizing the playing cards might face a felony cost.

Federal authorities even have issued related warnings elsewhere that such playing cards are pretend.

Face coverings are mandated in New Mexico as a part of a public well being order aimed toward preserve the coronavirus in examine. Whereas every day case counts in New Mexico have declined since spiking in July, officers proceed to situation reminders about masks through social media posts and messages on digital freeway billboards across the state.

The pretend playing cards show the logos of the 2 businesses and declare that denial of the cardholder entry to a enterprise or group regardless of not sporting a face masks will end in a fantastic. The state’s public well being order requires the other — that folks put on face coverings when out in public until instruction from a well being care supplier might be introduced.

State well being officers say they perceive that sporting masks won’t be potential for all folks, together with those that are deaf or laborious of listening to and other people with mental or developmental disabilities.

“Folks mendacity a few medical situation to get out of sporting a face masks actually places their lives and that of these round them in danger,” state Well being Secretary Kathy Kunkel stated in an announcement. “New Mexicans need to really feel protected out in public, and fraudulent messaging like that is each unlawful and doubtlessly harmful to folks’s well being.”

The Well being Division is working with the state lawyer basic’s workplace to make sure anybody issuing fraudulent exemption playing cards is prosecuted.

Officers are also asking the general public to report any violations of the general public well being order, which additionally forbids massive gatherings and prohibits eating places from providing indoor eating.

It is going to be as much as the New Mexico Supreme Court docket to settle a case over whether or not the state well being secretary has the authority below New Mexico legislation to limit or shut eating places and different companies to guard public well being. The court docket introduced Wednesday that it has scheduled arguments in case for Aug. 26.

In all, well being officers have reported greater than 22,800 instances and almost 700 deaths in New Mexico because the pandemic started.

For most individuals, the brand new coronavirus causes delicate or reasonable signs, similar to fever and cough that clear up in two to a few weeks. For some, particularly older adults and other people with current well being issues, it may possibly trigger extra extreme sickness, together with pneumonia and dying.