We are all equal in the eyes of the law, right? No – or at least not in Oregon.
The New York Post reports that officials in Lincoln County, Oregon, have declared that “people of color” are no longer required to wear face masks for coronavirus protection, even though white people still are.
Why? To prevent racial profiling, obviously.
The exception to the rule
Coronavirus numbers are on the rise in Oregon, a state which has now seen over 7,000 COVID-19 cases with 192 deaths. Lincoln County, with a population of about 50,000, is one of the areas that has been experiencing this surge.
Accordingly, local health officials put out a directive last week requiring individuals to wear a facemask in all situations in which there is a possibility of coming within 6 feet of another person.
In that directive, however, the officials came up with four exceptions to the order. One was for those people whose health problems could be made worse by wearing a mask; another was for children under 12 years of age; a third one was for people with disabilities that prevent them from using a face mask.
And then, finally, there was this exception:
People of color who have heightened concerns about racial profiling and harassment due to wearing face coverings in public.
“Like almost every criminal sketch . . .”
The apparent issue, the one that Lincoln County health officials are trying to address with this exception, has been brought to the fore over the past few weeks by left-leaning outlets, including CNN, particularly as civil unrest has continued over the death of George Floyd. Here’s ReNika Moore, the director of the ACLU’s Racial Justice Program:
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.
Here’s another excerpt, found by the Washington Examiner, from a Stat News article entitled, “Which death do they choose?’: Many Black men fear wearing a mask more than the coronavirus.”
When the CDC issued guidelines in early March asking people to wear masks to prevent the spread of coronavirus, the question for many Black men was not where to get a mask or which kind. It was: How do I cover my face and not get shot?
The Post, for its report, quoted Trevon Logan, an Ohio State University economics professor, who said that wearing a face mask is “basically telling people to look dangerous given racial stereotypes that are out there.” He continued:
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. It looks like almost every criminal sketch of any garden-variety black suspect.
That’s a “woke” county
Data is important, and we’d like to see the numbers on whether people of color have been shot or racially profiled such that their lives were put in danger for the wearing of a face mask for coronavirus purposes. If the numbers bear that out, should we consider not requiring anyone to wear a mask?
This story sounds a lot like a local government trying to appear “woke.” We’re sure that other areas of the country will now follow suit wanting to prove that they’re at the forefront of “progress.” As that happens, we’ll have to see whether anyone tries to legally challenge this racially motivated exception.