Health officials in Lincoln County, Oregon, are making a special exemption to COVID-19 mask rules for “people of color who have heightened concerns about racial profiling and harassment.”
A directive signed June 16 by health administrator Rebecca Austen and health officer Dr. David Long orders citizens to wear masks at indoor public settings and outdoor public locations where social distancing of 6 feet is not possible.
Children and persons with disabilities or specific medical conditions are exempt, although the directive makes clear that non-white individuals who worry over harassment “due to wearing face coverings in public” are included.
The New York Post noted commentary by ReNika Moore, director of the ACLU’s Racial Justice Program, during a recent CNN appearance as a likely example of the city’s rationale.
“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,” Ms. Moore said, the newspaper reported Tuesday.
The directive was sent despite officials insistence that “a significant risk of the spread of the disease in the community will continue” and result in “hospitalization and possible death” for citizens.
Current data on the contagion attributes more than 121,000 U.S. deaths to the contagion out of a population of roughly 330 million.