A high school runner in Oregon says her face mask prevented her from breathing and caused her to collapse at the finish line during a race.
Shocking footage from last Thursday’s 800-meter race at Summit High School in Bend shows masked runner Maggie Williams barely able to complete the race as she falls limp past the finish line.
Williams managed to break her school’s record, but her collapse at the finish line immediately prompted concern.
“I found out a couple minutes after my race, when I had recovered from my fall,” Williams said of her record-breaking run. “So super exciting for me.”
Williams described being unable to breathe as she powered through the last leg of the race.
“I felt like I just wasn’t being able to get a full breath,” Williams described. “Multiple times of that happening, not being able to get enough air — I just felt super-dizzy, and then eventually passed out.”
The high school junior believes the mask required for student athletes by the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) is to blame.
“In the past, this has never happened,” Williams claimed. “Then this race that I was wearing a mask, it did happen, which I don’t think is a coincidence.”
Williams’ coach, Dave Turnbull, also suspects the mask caused the blackout.
“She just ran a 2:11 in Arizona without a mask on,” Turnbull explained. “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.”
Looking back on his 31 years of experience, Turnbull said the fall was unlike any he’d seen before.
“It was a different response than I’ve seen for kids that have collapsed to the track just because they were exhausted,” the coach said. “She wasn’t sure where she was.”
“We were so fortunate this didn’t end up in a real serious injury with Maggie, but we shouldn’t gamble on the next one.”
The incident prompted the OHA to release new guidance Monday, which now allows participants in outdoor sporting events to remove their masks.
Here’s the OHA’s revision on mask rules, via NewsChannel21.com:
“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.”
Williams says she’s “excited that some good can come out of this situation.”
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