Absolutely not. A “medical exemption” is a statement from a licensed health care provider that says a person is unable to wear a mask due to medical or mental health problems. It does not give a person permission to transmit a dangerous infectious disease to other people. Common conditions like asthma, allergies, or chronic lung disease are not valid reasons for a “medical exemption”. They are actually strong reasons to wear masks as many of these chronic conditions are associated with increased risk of COVID-19 complications. People who have valid physical or psychological reasons that prevent them from wearing masks (facial deformities, panic disorders, developmental disabilities) are unable to go into places where masks are required. They should seek assistance from friends and family to help purchase essential foods and medication. Businesses are required to offer alternate ways of providing products and services such as curbside pick-up or home delivery.
Not being able to wear a mask in an occupational setting is a serious disability and prevents a person from being involved in any face-to-face encounters with customers or coworkers. Only jobs that can be performed alone in a room or outdoors greater than 6 feet away from others can be safely performed without a mask. A face shield is not a substitute for a face mask. The protective effect of a mask comes from its ability to trap respiratory droplets and aerosols (“source control”). Face shields offer good protection for the eyes but have no significant “source control” effect. We now believe that 40% or more of people who have COVID-19 have no symptoms but can still be highly infectious. This is why everyone must wear a mask while indoors or closer than 6 feet outdoors.