Oregon County COVID19 Mask Mandate Offers 'Special Exemption' – Based On Race, Of Course

P. Gardner Goldsmith | June 23, 2020
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(UPDATE 4/25/20: After facing backlash for its mask policy, Lincoln County, Oregon has rolled back their directive. For more, click here.)


It’s here! As they often do, identity politics advocates and social justice “warriors” in Oregon just offered the rest of the world another mind-blowing example of leftist hypocrisy – this time as part of the clownish COVID-19 mandate madness.

UCLA Law professor Eugene Volokh reports for Reason that Lincoln County, Oregon, issued its “Face Covering Directive" on June 17. And, in addition to being rife with grammatical errors, the county “directive” offers a valuable glimpse at absolute government overreach and pandering identity politics all in the same document.

Proclaims Lincoln County:

General directive: All individuals in Lincoln County are required to wear face coverings during any indoor public setting or outdoor public location where a person will be in (sic) within six feet of another individual, who does not share the same household.

You read that right. Not only is the County government REQUIRING people to wear face-coverings, the people mandating said coverings appear disinterested in proofreading their own directives.

More to the point, the geniuses in Lincoln County post:


  • Persons with health/medical conditions that preclude or are exacerbated by wearing a face covering.
  • Children under the age of 12. Children over the age of 2 but under the age of 12 are encouraged to wear face coverings but not required to do so.
  • Persons with disabilities that prevents them from using the face covering as described in this Directive.  These persons must be reasonably accommodated to allow them access to goods and services.
  • People of color who have heightened concerns about racial profiling and harassment due to wearing face coverings in public.

“People of color.” What color? Multiple “colors”?

Of course, anyone quickly reading a headline about a government creating special “facemask” rules for “people of color” might think that the county was showing extra concern for black Americans – that the politicians were mandating them to wear masks because black Americans appear to be more at risk for COVID19.

But that assumes a few things.

First, it assumes that N95 masks are effective at stopping the Wuhan Coronavirus, aka, SARS Cov19, which is a matter of contentious debate, and appears to be a faulty assumption.

It also assumes the larger, more essential point, that politicians can COMPEL people to wear what they tell them to wear, an assumption both inappropriate and base. The idea that the state can compel residents to wear something -- either “for their own protection” or “for public health” -- is a variation of Hitler’s National Socialists mandating that Jews wear patches emblazoned with the Star of David to “protect the public.”

But, haven’t pop media chatterboxes stressed the fact that black Americans are at “greater risk” of COVID-19?

That, itself, needs expansion, since it’s literally impossible to know either the infection rates of COVID-19 or the mortality rates tied to it. The feds literally PAY medical establishments more to list patients as COVID-19-positive, even if the medical workers are uncertain of such a diagnosis, and COVID-19 Response Coordinator Deborah Birx herself told a press gathering that if a person dies “with” the virus, the feds encourage medical attendants to list the death as “caused” by the virus.

Additionally, many pop media outlets have used this alarmist narrative about black Americans being more susceptible to COVID-19 not to distinguish those Americans in any genetic or biological manner, but to leverage the story for the purposes of pushing the “economic inequality” narrative promiting bigger government.

A quick search of pop media stories on the topic of “African Americans more at risk for COVID-19” calls up dozens of stories – from CNN, NBC, The Washington Post, and more, that use this disparity in assumed disease/mortality rates as a means to imply that more government spending on health care for black Americans is necessary. The capper of these could be the headline from Quartz, “The Health Effects of Racism Are One Reason Black Americans Are Far More Likely to Die of Covid-19 Than Whites.”

But are higher incidences of obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and other comorbidities really the “health effects of racism”, or are they more likely connected to genetics and behavioral choices?

And how is it that, if racism really IS a major player in these comorbidity factors, all of the trillions spent on government medical handouts since Franklin Roosevelt started the patently unconstitutional Medicare system and Lyndon Johnson started the equally immoral and unconstitutional Medicaid, and states have instituted all their “child health initiatives” and all the other centrally planned, top-down health “initiatives” haven’t changed these factors? In fact, why is it that government spending has increased, but these factors have gotten worse?

In fact, if government needs to play a greater part in rectifying some media-perceived “racial” reason for higher incidences of COVID19 morbidity among black Americans – if the government isn’t being “fair” in how it spends “its” money on “health care” for that particular minority -- how should one look at the fact that black people comprise 2.2 percent of the Oregon population, yet receive 4 percent of all state Medicare funds?

Surely, a group of county politicians who were worried about “social justice”, who were fearful of a deadly pathogen attacking the “most vulnerable” and wanted to mandate glorious “protective masks”, would want a headline to read that they were commanding black people TO wear masks… Wouldn’t they?

Or is there another set of considerations at play?

Could it be that the politicians in Lincoln County, Oregon, are less concerned with “public health” than they are with “public appearances” and identity politics? Could it be that they aren’t really sure about the effectiveness of masks, or even the infection and mortality rates of COVID19, and so, instead, they are issuing a superficial, feel-good “order” and offering a magnanimous “exception” to one racial group because, in fact, race and the appearance of “racial sensitivity” – which is really racial prejudice and true institutional racism in this government policy case?

You be the judge.

Just don’t be caught without a mask in Lincoln County, Oregon – if your skin color isn’t preferred by the agents of institutional racism.