The health director in Lincoln County, Oregon last week mandated that all people wear face coverings when out in public and continue with social distancing. There was, however, an exemption made for minorities to keep from being racially profiled.
From the directive (emphasis mine):
The following individuals do not need to comply with this Directive:
- 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 covering 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 allow them access to goods and services.
- People of color who have heightened concerns about racial profiling and harassment due to wearing face covering in public.
The decision comes after Oregon Gov. said beginning June 24th all Oregonians would be required to wear face masks in public. Lincoln County, however, decided to start earlier than the rest of the state, KATU-TV reported.
ReNika Moore, director of the ACLU's Racial Justice Program, told CNN back in April that minorities struggle to decide whether or not to wear a mask in public because of fear of being profiled.
"For many black people, deciding whether or not to wear a bandana in public to protect themselves and others from contracting coronavirus is a lose-lose situation that can result in life-threatening consequences either way," Moore explained. "Not wearing a protective bandana goes against CDC recommendations and increases the risk of contracting Covid-19, but wearing one could mean putting their lives at risk of getting shot or killed because of racially-biased targeting."