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Coronavirus Live Updates: Justice Department Warns Of Fake Mask Exemption Cards

Gerry Broome
The Department of Justice has issued an alert about a card circulating online falsely claiming that holders are legally exempt from wearing a mask. Public health officials overwhelmingly recommend wearing a mask when going out in public.

This post will be updated today, Monday, June 29, and through the week with the latest information on COVID-19 in South Florida.

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WLRN staff continues to add to community resource lists, including this article on where kids and families can get food while schools are closed, and this post about whether and where to get tested for coronavirus.

The dedicated website for the Florida Department of Health, including information about symptoms and numbers of cases, can be found here.

The dedicated website from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention can be found here.

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Quick Updates


PBC teachers union calls for school campuses to stay closed as pandemic rages

Updated at 12:15 p.m.

Palm Beach County’s teachers union is calling on the school district to keep campuses closed to students when classes resume in August, saying that a return to in-person schooling is “a dangerous gamble” with the coronavirus pandemic worsening.

In a letter to district leaders, teachers union President Justin Katz said Friday that the recent spike in new COVID-19 infections makes it impossible to guarantee a safe return for students and teachers, even with the social distancing measures being planned.

“The dangerous trajectory of COVID-19 cases in Florida has led us to believe that (in-person schooling) should still be offered, but not until a point in time when the on-campus option can be executed in a safe and responsible manner,” Katz wrote. “We no longer believe that is possible at this time.”

Read the whole story here.

— Andrew Marra/Palm Beach Post

Palm Beach Schools Meal Distribution Only Tuesday During Holiday Week

Updated at 11:03 a.m.

Tomorrow is the only day this week students and families will be able to get free meals at Palm Beach County public schools.

The district has been handing out multiple days’ worth of breakfasts, lunches and snacks on Tuesdays and Thursdays through summer school closures, as many families continue to struggle with food insecurity and unemployment amid the COVID-19 pandemic. But the Thursday event is canceled this week because of the upcoming July 4 holiday.

The twice-a-week distributions will pick up again next week.

Read more about where you can get free food during the pandemic here.

—Jessica Bakeman/WLRN News

Key West Closing Beaches On The Fourth

Updated at 9 a.m.

Beaches in Key West, like those on mainland south Florida, will be closed on the Fourth of July.
Mayor Teri Johnston announced the move this [Monday]  morning.
The city was already expecting big crowds for the holiday weekend and canceled the fireworks display.

Beaches will close at 5 p.m. Thursday and reopen at sunrise on Monday.
The city of Marathon already announced that Sombrero Beach will be closed all day on the Fourth. The fireworks display there is still on.

-Nancy Klingener/WLRN News

Justice Department Warning

Updated at 8:00 am

Public health experts overwhelmingly agree that one of the best ways to slow the spread of the coronavirus is to wear a mask. Still, the seemingly straightforward recommendation to secure a covering over one's nose and mouth has proven one of the pandemic's more partisan issues.

The Department of Justice is now warning that a card circulating online is falsely claiming its holder is lawfully exempt from wearing a mask.

A recently issued alert by the department is urging the public not to heed information printed on the fraudulent cards, which purport to carry the authority of the "Freedom to Breathe Agency," which is neither a federal nor a state agency.


The fake card states that wearing a mask will incur mental or physical risk for the holder. The card also posits that the Americans with Disabilities Act forbids raising questions about the health condition aggravated by mask usage. Penalties are threatened if a business owner does not act accordingly.

Jason Slotkin/ NPR

Read more at NPR.