Lincoln County, Oregon, Exempts Non-White People From Mask Order

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Lincoln County, Oregon has exempted non-white people from its mandatory mask order designed to prevent coronavirus. That exception can be found in the official policy for the county.

“People of color who have heightened concerns about racial profiling and harassment due to wearing face coverings in public,” the policy reads under a list of exceptions.

The county’s website includes that comment under exceptions that fall under the header, “Face Covering Directive.”

“All individuals in Lincoln County are required to wear face coverings during any indoor public setting or outdoor public location where a person will be in within six feet of another individual, who does not share the same household,” it otherwise states. See the full order here.

But then it outlines the exceptions, including one based on a person’s race.

A previous article by CNN highlighted concerns some people of color have around mask wearing. The network quoted Trevon Logan, an economics professor at Ohio State University, who 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.” CNN reported that his concern was shared by others.

Among them: Aaron Thomas, who tweeted, “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.” Those concerns were expressed before the Oregon policy. CNN described Thomas as an educator in Ohio.

Here’s what you need to know:

The Policy Outlines Several Exceptions

The policy has several exceptions. The one on race is only one of them. Here’s the full list of “exceptions”:

Persons with health/medical conditions that preclude or are exacerbated by wearing a face covering.
Children under the age of 12. Children over the age of 2 but under the age of 12 are encouraged to wear face coverings but not required to do so.
Persons with disabilities that prevents them from using the face covering as described in this Directive. These persons must be reasonably accommodated to allow them access to goods and services.
People of color who have heightened concerns about racial profiling and harassment due to wearing face coverings in public.

As for everyone else, the policy states, “self executing: all individuals expected to adhere to directive terms.” It admonishes, “no person shall intimidate or harass individuals who do not comply.”

The order also says that Lincoln County “has seen a recent spike in COVID-19 confirmed cases.” The mask policy was being introduced to ward off a “significant risk of spread of the disease in the community.”

The order continues, “Face coverings, properly used and maintained, are an important tool in the tool kit of public health responses to stop the spread of COVID-19 in Lincoln County. Wearing face coverings as outlined…are a reasonable and appropriate measure to maintain the health and control and prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

KGW-8 reported that seven counties in Oregon, among them Lincoln, are impacted by the governor’s mask requirements.

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