BEND, Oregon (PNN) - April 23, 2021 - A high school track coach in Oregon is calling for an end to rules mandating mask-wearing during competition after one of his athletes collapsed from “complete oxygen debt”
After a nearly two-year break from track meets, high schools in Oregon once again began competing, but the state added a new rule, requiring students to wear masks at all times, even when competing in sports.
While excited to get back to competition, Summit coach Dave Turnbull was not thrilled about the masks.
The biggest problem for the coach and his runners came in the 800-meter race when student Maggie Williams collapsed on the track just meters short of the finish line as she was on the verge of achieving a school record.
“I was pushing so hard and everything went blurry and I just fell,” said Williams. “But luckily I fell at the right spot and crossed the line with my head.”
This end to Williams’ race worried coach Turnbull. He blamed his runner’s collapse on the mask.
“I am concerned with the mask rule,” Turnbull said. “This is what I am worried about, and I said this at the beginning of the season. You get a (someone) running the 800 with a mask on, it is actually dangerous. (He/she doesn’t)) get (needed) oxygen. This rule needs to change.”
Turnbull added that he sent his request up the chain to the powers that be.
“The good news is that the OSAA is working hard with the OHA to remove the mask restrictions,” Turnbull said. “I sent them pics of Maggie hitting the ground. I warned them of this in a meeting over a month ago. Respiration requirements in events from 400 to 3K are far too high for masks. Moreover, carbon dioxide isn’t fully removed from the mask upon inhalation. The very reason we wear the masks to protect others is now a liability for the athlete.”
The coach concluded by saying that coronavirus transmission in outdoor settings is low.
“Look at the science of COVID transmission outside. It has been non-existent. Why are track athletes still required to run in a mask? What metrics are you following?” he asked.