Oregon Lifts Mask Mandate for Non-Contact Outdoor Sports—But Only After High School Runner COLLAPSES at Finish Line

The Oregon Health Authority has lifted its mask mandate for high schoolers competing in non-contact outdoor sports. But it only did so after a track and field runner collapsed right as she was about to cross the finish line.

Maggie Williams, a student at Summit High School in Bend, Oregon, was running the 800-meter race during a track meet last week. Wearing a mask in accord with the state mandate, she suffered “complete oxygen debt” at the end of the race and face-planted just three meters short of the finish line.

“I’ve been doing this for 31 years, I’ve never seen anybody basically lose consciousness,” her coach Dave Turnbull said. “I’ve never seen that in the way it happened with Maggie.”

Williams’ fall and the subsequent outcry appear to have spurred a slight but necessary change. The OHA said Monday that high school athletes who participate in non-contact outdoor sports will no longer have to wear masks. Athletes who participate in sports where it is impossible to maintain six feet of distance, however, are still subject to the mandate.

As for Williams, her collapse did not prevent her from setting a new school record for the 800-meter race. Despite falling a few feet before the finish line, her momentum carried her across. She came to and appears to be doing well, though she is being monitored for a possible concussion.

Oregon was ostensibly the last state in the entire country to require masks for track and field competitors and cross country runners. It’s a shame that it took the collapse of an athlete to cause the OHA to reconsider their anti-scientific stance, but it’s a step in the right direction. Hopefully the state will soon begin to reconsider the mask mandate for high school athletes in general.

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