ALBUQUERQUE. — A New Mexico woman is accused of coughing into the face of a health care worker after refusing to wear a mask, authorities said.
Joy Ebel, 53 of Truchas, was charged with a fourth-degree felony for battery on a health care worker, which carries a maximum penalty of 18 months in jail and/or a $5,000 fine, the Albuquerque Journal reported. Her first appearance is scheduled for Jan. 5 in Santa Fe Magistrate Court.
According to a criminal complaint filed in Santa Fe Magistrate Court, Ebel took her son to La Familia Medical Center in Santa Fe on Dec. 3, the Journal reported. Due to the coronavirus, clinical staff personnel require that people waiting for patients to be treated must remain in their vehicle, the newspaper reported.
That restriction was lifted and Ebel was allowed to enter the waiting room because her son was a juvenile, the Journal reported.
Ebel, who was not wearing a mask, was asked several times to put one on but refused, KOAT reported. After Ebel refused for a third time, a medical assistant told her that refusal to wear a face covering would mean she would have to wait in her car, the television station reported.
According to the complaint, Ebel stood up and got nose to nose with a health care worker before coughing into the worker’s face, KRQE reported.
Ebel stood up “nose to nose” with a healthcare worker, and then coughed into the worker’s face. The worker is now working from home and does not have any symptoms. the television station reported.
Ebel “was yelling and being otherwise disorderly, and then coughed directly” into the victim’s face, so much so that “she felt Ms. Ebel’s breath and saliva hit her face,” according to the complaint.
Officials said Ebel also coughed into a second health care worker’s face. Both workers were wearing personal protective equipment.
However; in a statement released by the supposedly offender she said: “I did lift up my mask to breathe, from the bottom, because I have claustrophobia,” She says she only took off her mask entirely when she began to exit the office and never purposely coughed on anyone.
Ebel’s first appearance is scheduled for Jan. 5 in Santa Fe Magistrate Court, the Journal reported. Full credits AP.

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