News and Commentary

Mask Mandate Changed After Coach Puts Pressure On Health Dept. Following Teen Runner Collapsing At Finish Line
Merritt Island High School / Merritt Island / Florida
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After a coach and the local community put pressure on the health department in Oregon, outdoor athletes competing in non-contact sports are finally allowed to take off their masks.

Coach Dave Turnbull spoke out publicly after one of his standout runners on the Summit High School track team, Maggie Williams, collapsed at the finish line of an 800-meter race.

Williams said it was the mask that made her pass out, noting that she was unable to take in a full breath. Coach Turnbull agreed and blasted the guidance hurting his athletes.

“I felt like I just wasn’t being able to get a full breath,” the junior said, according to KTVZ News.“Multiple times of that happening, not being able to get enough air — I just felt super-dizzy, and then eventually passed out.”

“In the past, this has never happened,” Williams emphasized. “Then this race that I was wearing a mask, it did happen, which I don’t think is a coincidence.”

Turnbull noted that Williams “just ran a 2:11 in Arizona without a mask on. Three seconds faster from my experience isn’t going to cause a kid to hit the track. When you’re in a mask, it certainly does.”

“It was a different response than I’ve seen for kids that have collapsed to the track just because they were exhausted,” he added. “She wasn’t sure where she was.”

As highlighted by The Daily Wire, Turnbull further ripped the state’s face mask mandate for outdoor competitive distance runners during an interview with The Bulletin:

“I am concerned with the mask rule. This is what I am worried about and I said this at the beginning of the season. You get a kid running the 800 with a mask on, it is actually dangerous. They don’t get the oxygen that they need. This rule needs to change,” Turnbull said. “Unfortunately in Oregon, we have to follow the [Oregon Health Authority]. And the OHA is not reasonable. I would like those people to come out and run an 800 with a mask on.”

Last Monday, the Oregon Health Authority released a statement announcing their slightly relaxed mask mandate, KTVZ News reported:

“The Oregon Health Authority regularly reviews COVID-19 guidance based on medical evidence and evolving science. We are revising the current guidance on the use of masks outdoors during competition. The guidance will allow people to take off face coverings when competing in non-contact sports outdoors and maintaining at least 6 feet of distance from others and the other virus protective protocols.

  *   The exception will not apply while training and conditioning for these sports or for competitions.
  *   The exception will not apply before and after competing.

“Oregon at present is facing a fourth wave of surging COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations and wider community spread of the virus. Mask wearing has proven to be effective at slowing spread of the virus – particularly in conjunction with other protective measures such as physical distancing, restricting gatherings, hand washing and getting a COVID-19 vaccine.

“As always, OHA will revise guidance as needed to protect public health during the pandemic.”

In reaction to the change, Williams told the news station, “I’m very excited that some good can come out of this situation.”

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