Oregon county reviews mask order exempting non-white people

Facing a torrent of “racist comments”, Lincoln County of Oregon has modified its non-white exemption from a new order requiring them to cover their faces in public, according to a report.

Health officials recently announced that residents should wear face covers where they can be within six feet of someone other than from the same home.

But people of color did not have to follow the rule if they had “greater concerns about racial profiling and bullying” for wearing the masks, authorities previously said.

On Wednesday, the county made a radical change and removed the exception, saying it “does more harm than good,” USA Today reported.

“We include protections for those within our communities of color who have historically, and often personally, been victims of harassment and violence,” the Board of County Commissioners said in a statement.

“We are shocked and appalled at the volume of horrifyingly racist comments we have received regarding this policy exemption,” he added.

Commission spokesman Casey Miller said the dropped exception was a well-intentioned way for people concerned about racial profiling not to wear a mask.

“I thought it was carefully designed. The focus of the directive was really on the health side, ”he told USA Today of the directive, which came as the county was experiencing an increase in coronavirus cases after an outbreak at a seafood plant in Newport.

With mask requirements increasingly common, activists have expressed concern that directives may endanger non-whites.

But the directive apparently had the opposite effect, sparking a torrent of phone calls and messages from residents.

“We went through this last week and we didn’t hear much. And then all of a sudden, our call center explodes with people just yelling at whoever answers the phone, ”Miller told the media.

“We get so many angry emails and calls that we are totally overwhelmed. It has been difficult to do daily work, such as providing information to health-conscious people, getting tested, or eating while in quarantine. ”

The Board of Commissioners wrote that “the county received multiple calls from the leaders of our communities of color asking us to review the policy; it did not provide protection, but made them potential targets for more hatred.”

“We will not continue a directive and policies intended to help, but are a potential source of harm,” he added.

Under the revised rules, the only exceptions to the mask mandate are for people with medical conditions, people with disabilities that prevent them from using a cover, and children under the age of 12.

“Discrimination and racism faced by people of color who cover their faces, particularly black men, are subjects of great concern, and we recognize the reasoning behind the Lincoln County exemption,” said Charles Boyle, spokesman for the governor. Kate Brown, to USA Today.

“However, it is also the case that black, indigenous, Latino, Pacific Islander and other communities of color have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19 and the disparities in our health system,” added Boyle. “For the state’s face coverage requirements, our top priority is public health and halting the spread of this disease.”