Oregon County Orders White People to Wear Masks in Public, Everyone Else 'Exempt'
Lincoln County health officials exempt non-whites over 'concerns about racial profiling'
Health officials in an Oregon county have issued a new order that requires only white people to wear face masks, while all other non-white residents are "exempt" from the rule.
Lincoln County claims the move is meant to combat "concerns about racial profiling."
Officials announced that the measure is mandatory for all residents who are likely to come within six feet of another person who is not from their own household.
Residents must wear face coverings when in public places unless they are a child under the age of 12, have certain health conditions or disabilities, or if they are a person of color.
White people who refuse to wear face masks in public will create "a significant risk" of COVID-19 continuing to spread following "a recent spike," the order states.
The Public Health Administrator issued the order "based on the science and data reviewed by us," according to the directive.
“People of color do not have to follow the new rule if they have ‘heightened concerns about racial profiling and harassment’ over wearing the masks, officials said,” The New York Post reported.
Those exempted from wearing face masks, Lincoln County’s June 16 directive states, are “persons with health or medical conditions that preclude or are exacerbated by wearing a face covering,” “children under the age of 12,” persons with certain disabilities that do no allow them to wear one, and “people of color who have heightened concerns about racial profiling and harassment due to wearing face coverings in public.”
“No person shall intimidate or harass people who do not comply,” health officials said, according to The Daily Wire.
The Post cites ACLU Racial Justice Program Director ReNika Moore, who told CNN, “For many black people, deciding whether or not to wear a bandanna in public to protect themselves and others from contracting coronavirus is a lose-lose situation that can result in life-threatening consequences either way.”
CNN quoted Trevon Logan, who is black, as saying a mandate to wear face coverings are “basically telling people to look dangerous given racial stereotypes that are out there. …
"This is in the larger context of black men fitting the description of a suspect who has a hood on, who has a face covering on,” said Logan, an economics professor at Ohio State University.
“It looks like almost every criminal sketch of any garden-variety black suspect,” he said.
"We have a lot of examples of the presumed criminality of black men in general.
"And then we have the advice to go out in public in something that … can certainly be read as being criminal or nefarious, particularly when applied to black men.”
Some on social media agree.
“I don’t feel safe wearing a handkerchief or something else that isn’t CLEARLY a protective mask covering my face to the store because I am a Black man living in this world,” Aaron Thomas wrote on Twitter, which has more than 123,000 “likes.”
"I want to stay alive but I also want to stay alive."
I don’t feel safe wearing a handkerchief or something else that isn’t CLEARLY a protective mask covering my face to the store because I am a Black man living in this world. I want to stay alive but I also want to stay alive.— Aaron Thomas (@Aaron_TheThomas) April 4, 2020
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Friday instructed people to wear “cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.”
The federal guidance included a video of U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams showing how to turn a bandana, scarf or T-shirt into an acceptable mask.
“Health equity, and the complex interactions between race and health, have always been an area of emphasis for my office,” Adams said in a statement sent to CNN.
“I understand the concerns communities of color would have about being racially profiled and am working with the NAACP, the NMA, and other organizations representing people of color to ensure no one is unduly harmed by COVID-19 or our response to it.”
Adams notably said on March 1 on Twitter: “Seriously people—STOP BUYING MASKS!”
They are “NOT effective in preventing [the] general public from catching #Coronavirus, but if healthcare providers can’t get them to care for sick patients, it puts them and our communities at risk!” he added.