The internet has a really stupid new conspiracy theory. It goes something like this:
“I don’t want to wear masks. There are a variety of reasons for this. I think they are bad for my health, are too intrusive, don’t work, or whatever other reason. Because of this, I will claim a medical condition which does not allow me to wear a mask under the ADA. That will allow me to be exempt from mask requirements by state and local governments or businesses. I also don’t have to disclose what medical condition because HIPAA prevents them from asking.”
These three arguments are nonsense. Let’s explain why each is wrong.
First, the arguments for why they shouldn’t wear a mask are nonsense. Most commonly, they claim it restricts oxygen. That’s nonsense. Tons of mask wearers and medical professionals have shown that the blood’s oxygen level does not change when wearing a mask. The reason is simple: oxygen and carbon molecules are far too small to be inhibited by a mask. As an additional note: I’ve still yet to hear an actual medical condition which would impair someone from wearing a mask. If it exists, then that person should probably be staying home since they have massive risk factors for COVID.
They have other silly reasons. For example, they have made insane comparisons to slaves wearing muzzles or made up religious reasons on the spot or that the virus is fake and just an excuse for control. They may even use a combination of reasons. They are all silly. Masks are an incredibly uninvasive way to protect yourself and others and the aggregate impact would be to end the pandemic.
Second, they misunderstand the ADA. You’ll never see them cite the actual text of the law. Their argument assumes the ADA allows anyone with a disability must be accommodated no matter what. In this case, because they claim a medical condition keeps them from wearing a mask they must be allowed to do as they want without a mask. This is nonsense. The ADA requires reasonable accommodation.
For example, a restaurant that has to-go orders would be providing a reasonable accommodation. They also ignore another aspect of the law– “direct threats”. These are people that post a “significant risk to the health or safety of others that cannot be eliminated by reasonable accommodation.” Simply put: if someone has a disability that endangers even with reasonable accommodation then they don’t have to be served. For example, if you are possibly contagious with a deadly and infectious disease then you don’t have to be served.
Lastly, they also misunderstand HIPAA. Most telling, they don’t know it’s HIPAA. I’m far from the first to notice they keep referring to HIPPA. The fact they can’t even get the acronym right suggests a lot about their knowledge of the actual law. HIPAA only applies to covered entities and their business associates. It also doesn’t prevent anyone from asking any questions. It only prevents covered entities and their business associates from disclosing covered information without your permission. For example, it applies to healthcare providers and insurance companies. Contrary to many people’s understanding, it does not apply to Wal-Mart asking if you actually have a medical condition. A Wal-Mart associate can ask whatever medical questions they want. They can also reveal your answer to anyone they want. The only people who could hold them responsible are their bosses at Wal-Mart.
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