Portland, OR — Health officials in Lincoln County, Oregon has issued an order for any situation in which individuals might come within 6 feet of another person. However, due to “heightened concerns about racial profiling and harassment,” non-white people are not required to abide by the rule, according to the New York Post.
This decision to exempt non-white people comes as some have attempted to make the case that minorities are in danger when required to wear masks. ReNika Moore, ACLU Racial Justice Program Director, said an interview with CNN that, “For many black people, deciding whether or not to wear a bandana in public to protect themselves and others from contracting COVID-19 is a lose-lose situation that can result in life-threatening consequences either way.”
Oregon health officials announced that residents must wear face coverings in public settings where they may come within six feet of another individual who is not from the same household.
But 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. “No person shall intimidate or harass people who do not comply,” health officials said.
As of this past Monday’s case count, according to data on the states website, the total number of people who have tested positive for the deadly disease in the state is 7,083. In addition, the state’s death toll has increased to 192 people.
With mask requirements becoming more common, activists have raised concerns that the directives could put non-white people in danger.
Trevon Logan, a black economics professor at Ohio State University, said he will not be following this guidance. “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.”
Other black men and women from across the nation have provided additional comments and concerns.
“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,” an educator in Columbus, Ohio. “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
His tweet has more than 121,000 likes.
California, recently imposed a similar rule, with Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom mandating that face masks be worn in public places, which has resulted in pushback from many residents, and some officials have said they won’t enforce the rule.