A state mandate that residents wear face coverings in certain public indoor spaces goes into effect today, June 24, in seven Oregon counties including Multnomah. The mandate requires employees and customers at area businesses wear a face covering unless an accommodation is required or certain other conditions apply.
Evolving science shows a face covering that fits well and is made out of certain types and combinations of fabric can offer good protection from COVID-19 to the wearer and to those nearby.
So Multnomah County is strongly encouraging residents who can adhere to the governor’s mandate to wear face coverings in public indoor spaces. We also recommend face coverings when interacting with friends and family who do not share a household.
That said, some people should not wear a face covering or don’t feel safe doing so. People who have trouble breathing shouldn’t wear a face covering. Young children shouldn’t wear a face covering. Anyone who cannot easily take off a face covering on their own should not wear one.
There is also legitimate safety concern among some of our communities of color related to wearing face covering. Racist reactions to Black, Indigenous, and People of Color wearing face coverings is a reality. The County will not act in a way that may prompt over-policing or shaming of individuals.
For those reasons, Multnomah County will not enforce the state’s face covering mandate. Instead the County is taking steps to make face coverings available to those most at risk. It is prioritizing donations of face coverings to community groups that serve essential workers, older adults and communities of color.
And we are urging businesses to make face coverings available to staff and to customers, free or at very low cost.
We should not make assumptions about why a person may or may not wear a face covering. So we urge people to be kind, avoid judging or policing. Instead, those who can should wear a face covering and maintain physical distance. In that way, it protects you and the person who may not wear one.