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Legal questions and phony vaccine cards popping up after New Orleans enacts new COVID-19 requirements

Phony Vax cards and legalities
Phony Vax cards and legalities
Published: Aug. 13, 2021 at 10:31 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The City of New Orleans is enacting a new requirement that employees and customers of restaurants, bars, venues, casinos, and gyms either show proof of vaccination or a negative test if they are 12 and older.

Some people have posed questions about the legality of the requirement.

“The notion that the government can’t tell me what to do because it’s about my life is completely fallacious. There’s no legal basis for it whatsoever,” Tulane Law Professor, Joel Friedman said.

You have a right to privacy as an employee or customer, but Friedman says this is different because your decision not to get vaccinated not only affects you, but everybody around you.

“You ever heard of restaurants that say we’re a non-smoking restaurant? It’s exactly the same,” Friedman said. “Why do they have no smoking? Because it poses a threat to the health of others because of secondary effects of smoke. Does it discriminate in the sense of treating people differently? Yes, but when you say discrimination in terms of unlawful distinctions? No, they have every right to.”

Friedman says the city has the right to protect public health and safety as long as there are exemptions for people with disabilities and religious objections and that’s why the city has the proof of a negative test alternative.

He also confirms asking you for your vaccination status is not a HIPAA violation.

“HIPAA violation is when I have information about you, about your medical condition, and I distributed to people without your consent,” Friedman explained.

What is illegal is if you buy, sell or use a fake vaccination card. You’re breaking federal law. It can be categorized as the unauthorized use of an official government agency seal (such as HHS or CDC) and may be punishable under Title 18 United States Code, Section 1017, and other applicable laws. So, you’ll face up to five years in prison and a fine.

US Customs agents in Memphis recently intercepted fake vaccination cards heading to the CBD.

“They’re just going absolutely everywhere and they’re all pretty much the same,” Public Affairs Officer, Matthew Dyman said. “They all come from Shenzhen, China and they’re all manifested as ‘paper card, or a greeting card.”

Investigators say the package of 51 low-quality, counterfeit cards contained typos and unfinished words and were imported by a non-medical or CDC entity which makes them easy to spot.

That was the 15th shipment they seized that night too. Memphis has seized over 3,000 of these cards to date.

“Now we have to spend our time seizing these as well as all of the other things that we seize like fentanyl, methamphetamines, silencers for guns, and all kinds of contraband that CBP takes,” Dyman said. “This is just adding on to the pile of things that we need to seize.”

NOPD says counterfeit cards will be prosecuted. Both the FBI and the US Attorney’s Office are on the lookout.

A spokesperson said, “given the current strain on law enforcement and first responders, it’s profoundly disappointing that some would consider paying a small sum of money to fabricate what can be gained legally for free.”

FBI Urges Vigilance During COVID-19 Pandemic, please see FBI.GOV for FBI guidance on Covid-19 https://www.fbi.gov/coronavirus

If people are aware of fraudulent Covid-19 Vaccination Cards, they can report it to 1-800-CALLFBI, https://tips.fbi.gov/, and/or https://www.ic3.gov/

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