The state of Oregon has now revised its outdoor mask mandate for high school athletes after a track star passed out just as she crossed the finish line at a recent meet.
KTVZ reports Maggie Williams, a junior on the Summit High School track team in Bend, stumbled her way to the end of her school record-breaking run and lost consciousness. Both Williams and her coach say her mask is to blame, and as a result, the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) is updating its guidelines.
Williams clocked her 800-meter race at 2:08:45, which beat the school record of 2:10:54 which was set two years ago.
She told the station what she experienced prior to her fall.
"I felt like I just wasn't being able to get a full breath," she said. "Multiple times of that happening, not being able to get enough air -- I just felt super-dizzy, and then eventually passed out."
Williams said her lack of oxygen was the result of the mask she's been required to wear while running in competitions under OHA guidelines for outdoor sports.
"In the past, this has never happened," Williams said. "Then this race that I was wearing a mask, it did happen, which I don't think is a coincidence."
Williams' fall was captured by her mother who was videotaping her race.
Oregon high school junior breaks 800-meter school record and falls face-first at finish line as mask restricts breathing. pic.twitter.com/bN5aPDKO10
— Clarity (@covid_clarity) April 28, 2021
Dave Turnbull, Williams' coach, told KTVZ after 31 years in coaching track, he's confident Williams spill wasn't a conditioning issue, it was a mask issue.
"It was a different response than I've seen for kids that have collapsed to the track just because they were exhausted," he said. "She wasn't sure where she was."
In a statement, the OHA announced their revision to the outdoor mask guidelines earlier this week.
"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."
Williams, Turnbull, and her father Steve Williams appeared on Fox News, where she told host, Laura Ingraham, she had never passed out during a race before.
"This has never happened to me in a race before," she said during the interview. "I mean obviously, I've been very exhausted after races, but never passing out or collapsing."
Coach Turnbull said he's appreciative the OHA has taken a look at it and responded, but he's frustrated it was a reactive type of decision, instead of being pro-active.
"We warned them actually the OHA, we talked about it that this might happen," he said. "Because the level of exertion these kids go through in the sport of track and field, their respiration rates are not standard -- they're not normal. They're going above and beyond."
Ingram also asked Steve Williams what went through his mind, when he saw the video of his daughter falling.
"You know Laura, my heart just like broke," he replied. "But you know there's a scripture verse Romans 8:28. It says 'God works all things for the good for those who love him and are called according to His purposes.' And I am so proud of Maggie. She loves Jesus."
"And think about it," he continued. "Hitting the track full speed, blacked out, she has like a shoulder injury now. So God-like divinely protected her in the fall. Second, you now have thousands of Oregon athletes who don't need to wear masks while running. So a huge blessing there."