Senator Draheim, Senate, raise questions about the impact of Walz’s youth sports mask mandate

On Wednesday, the Minnesota Senate’s Health and Human Services Committee held a hearing with the Minnesota Department of Health to discuss the current statewide youth sports mask mandate. The subject has received backlash from families and legislators concerned about the effects on participants’ health and the societal health benefits.

Youth to the high school level were allowed to resume under new regulations from Governor Walz and the Minnesota Department of Health on January 4, but only after new rules requiring all athletes to wear face coverings while competing were put in place.

“Families across Minnesota are concerned about their young athletes,” said Senator Rich Draheim (R-Madison Lake). “They want to protect their children from COVID, but they also want kids to have some sort of normalcy back in their lives.  Right now, many parents are concerned about the actual health impacts of masks in youth sports. Parents are worried that those rules don’t have definitive health benefits but instead are solely in place to maintain a positive public perception. In fact, many folks have reached out with actual fears and stories about the dangers of masks in sports, citing fainting, collisions, and other dangerous issues.”

“Today’s hearing is to address those concerns, to talk with the Department of Health about what is driving their decisions, and to see what can be done to help our kids,” continued Senator Draheim.  

Guidance from the World Health Organization (WHO) states that masks should not be worn during exercise:

“Even when you’re in an area of COVID-19 transmission, masks should not be worn during vigorous physical activity because of the risk of reducing your breathing capacity. No matter how intensely you exercise, keep at least 1 meter away from others, and if you’re indoors, make sure there is adequate ventilation.”

The WHO also says:

“Sweat can make the mask become wet more quickly which makes it difficult to breathe and promotes the growth of microorganisms.” 

Children ages 0-19 are far less likely than adults to be harmed by COVID than any other age range. Children who do contract COVID also typically exhibit milder symptoms than adults.