Sprinting her last few yards to the finish line in the 800-meter race, high school athlete Maggie Williams stumbled, collapsed, and then lost consciousness. She blames her facemask that she was required to wear.

“I felt like I just wasn’t being able to get a full breath,” she told KTVZ in an interview. “Multiple times of that happening, not being able to get enough air — I just felt super-dizzy, and then eventually passed out.”

CBN reports, “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. Then this race that I was wearing a mask, it did happen, which I don’t think is a coincidence,” she told KTVZ.

Williams’ coach, Dave Turnbull, also blamed the mask for her collapse. “It was a different response than I’ve seen for kids that have collapsed to the track just because they were exhausted. She wasn’t sure where she was,” he said.

Despite her difficult breathing, Williams managed to run her race in 2:08:45, “which beat the school record of 2:10:54 which was set two years ago.”

Following the incident, the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) revised its mask mandate to stipulate that noncontact athletes no longer must wear masks while competing or practicing.

A student athlete does not have to wear a mask if they are “outdoors, competing in or practicing a non-contact sport, and maintains at least six (6) feet of distance from individuals outside of their household,” the new guidance states.

The guidance defines “non-contact sport” as “sports where participants have no close contact with any other individual while participating in the sport. Non-contact sports include but are not limited to tennis, swimming, cross-country, track and field, sideline/no-contact cheer and dance.”

It remains to be seen how the new policy will be implemented. Do runners, who often line up just inches away from one another before racing, have to wear a mask?

And what happens when a runner gets closer than six feet away from another during a race? Do they have to put their mask back on?

Many parents, especially those of student-athletes, are rightly concerned about their child’s health during the COVID-19 pandemic. The revision from OHA, however, seems to be an admission that sometimes, policies ostensibly intended to help protect a student’s health can go too far.

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