Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal
SANTA FE – A Truchas woman has been charged with battery upon a health care worker after she refused to wear a mask at a Santa Fe urgent care clinic and then coughed in a medical assistant’s face when asked to leave the building.
According to a criminal complaint filed this week in Santa Fe Magistrate Court, Joy Ebel, 53, took her son to La Familia Medical Center on Alto Street in Santa Fe on Dec. 3. Typically, as a precaution during the pandemic, clinic staff require that people waiting for patients to be treated remain in their vehicle.
But, because her son was a juvenile, Ebel was permitted to wait inside in the waiting room.
Ebel was told several times to put a mask on by clinic staff, according to the complaint but, after she refused, she was told she would have to wait in her car. Workers said Ebel then became irate, stood up and got “nose to nose” with a worker, yelling at her and coughing in her face.
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.
The worker is now quarantined at home and is concerned she may have contracted COVID-19, a respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus. The virus has infected 126,045 New Mexicans.
Ebel was charged with the 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. Her first appearance is scheduled for Jan. 5 in Santa Fe Magistrate Court.