County Institutes Mask Mandate That Only Applies to White People


UPDATE, June 26, 2020: After the publication of this article, Lincoln County officials changed their directive to delete the exception for “people of color” after receiving “racist commentary” and reports that the directive was causing “harm” to communities of color. The Salem Statesman Journal reported on the development on Thursday.

“The county received several calls from leadership from our communities of color asking us to revise the policy — it was not providing them protection, but instead making them possible targets for more hate,” the board of commissioners wrote. “We will not continue a directive and policies that were intended to assist but instead are a potential source of harm.”

This article appears as originally written.

When it comes to science versus social justice, social justice wins hands down.

That’s the lesson from one Oregon County, where a directive requiring all residents 12 and over to wear masks in indoor settings outside the home or outdoors when they will be near others includes one glaring exception that has nothing to do with “social distancing” or coronavirus infection.

“People of color” get a pass.

In coastal Lincoln County, a directive issued by the health department Wednesday specifically exempts non-Caucasians (referred to as “people of color”) from wearing masks required of all other county residents if they “have heightened concerns about racial profiling and harassment due to wearing face coverings in public.”

So for Lincoln County health officials, possibly groundless concerns among some residents about the possible perceptions of others trump the need for gear all other county residents must wear to prevent a potentially deadly infection from spreading.

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Possibly the most surprising thing about the news that a local government in the United States of America in 2020 is making such an explicitly race-based policy so shamelessly is that it’s hardly surprising at all.

After all, Democrats and their media allies who hectored endlessly about how Americans peacefully exercising their First Amendment right to protest against government lockdowns were endangering the public had no problem turning on a dime in response to protests that turned to a rampage of rioting and looting when the cause was approved by the left.

And for the left, everything is viewed through the prism of race.

News of the county’s decision to make openly race-based decisions about who is required to wear a mask did not go over well. At the Reason website, attorney Eugene Volokh called the provision blatantly wrong.

“I appreciate the concern about racial profiling, but, no, it can’t justify having one law for ‘people of color’ and another for whites; such a race-based classification violates the Equal Protection Clause,” he wrote.

It’s worth noting that the policy doesn’t contain any punishments and states that “no person shall intimidate or harass individuals who do not comply.”

Still, the attention it got from social media made it clear how unpopular it is.

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This one’s sarcasm summed things up perfectly:

Liberals pretend to worship “science” when it comes to infringing on the rights of others — when it involves destroying the global economy for the phantom threat of climate change, for instance, or destroying the national economy to protect against a global health emergency.

But when it comes to their own political agendas, “science” gets shelved without a second thought.

It’s the same kind of thinking that spurred New York Mayor Bill de Blasio to brush off complaints that his coronavirus lockdown policies shut down First Amendment-protected activities for some while allowing them for others.

It’s the same kind of thinking that led more than 1,000 health professionals, as CNN reported, to sign an open letter giving their blessing to the protests inspired by the death of George Floyd while in the custody of Minneapolis police on May 25 because they approved of the protests’ goals.

“However, as public health advocates, we do not condemn these gatherings as risky for COVID-19 transmission. We support them as vital to the national public health and to the threatened health specifically of Black people in the United States,” the professionals wrote, disgracing themselves and their profession.

Now comes the Lincoln County Health and Human Services Department to lend its official imprimatur to the idea of disease prevention based on race.

What’s especially interesting about the Lincoln County decision is that no such exception is included in the Oregon Health Authority’s guidelines for the county issued Friday. Those state guidelines make exceptions for those with physical disabilities or medical conditions where a “mask, face shield, or face covering” would cause breathing difficulties, but not a word about “people of color.”

Do you think this county's mask policy is racist?

It wasn’t clear Tuesday whether Lincoln could maintain the exception if it wasn’t included in the governor’s guidelines. The Western Journal has reached out by email to the Lincoln County COVID-19 Call Center. A voicemail message was also left with the county’s Environmental Health office.

Regardless, it appears obvious that, even with the governor’s office and state House and Senate in Democratic hands, the souls in Salem aren’t nearly as woke as they need to be.

They might need Lincoln County to show them that when it comes to science versus social justice, social justice wins hands down.

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Joe has spent more than 30 years as a reporter, copy editor and metro desk editor in newsrooms in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Florida. He's been with Liftable Media since 2015.
Joe has spent more than 30 years as a reporter, copy editor and metro editor in newsrooms in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Florida. He's been with Liftable Media since 2015. Largely a product of Catholic schools, who discovered Ayn Rand in college, Joe is a lifelong newspaperman who learned enough about the trade to be skeptical of every word ever written. He was also lucky enough to have a job that didn't need a printing press to do it.