LINCOLN COUNTY, Ore. (KRON) – In an effort to prevent racial profiling, one county in Oregon has exempted people of color from a new order requiring face masks in public.

Health officials in Lincoln County said in a statement last week that all residents must wear face coverings in public settings where social distancing is compromised.

However, the order does not apply to people of color if they have “heightened concerns about racial profiling and harassment” over wearing the face coverings, according to officials.

“No person shall intimidate or harass people who do not comply,” health officials said.

Previous exemptions from wearing a face mask in public included people with medical conditions who have difficulty breathing with a mas on, and those with disabilities that prevent the wearing of a face covering. Children under the age of 12 are also exempt.

According to census data, Lincoln County has a population of nearly 50,000 residents, with almost 90% of its residents white, and less than 1% Black.

“This [wearing a mask] seems like a reasonable response unless you just sort of take American society out of it,” Trevor Logan, an economics professor at Ohio State University and a Black man, told CNN. “When you can’t do that, you’re basically telling people to look dangerous given racial stereotypes that are out there.”

Lincoln County has reported 292 of Oregon’s more than 7,200 confirmed cases of coronavirus.

As of Wednesday, there has been two recorded deaths in the county.

Latest Stories: