Parents Tell Lawmakers Walz Mask Mandate Has Led to Student Sports Injuries

Parents of youth athletes got their say at a hearing before state senate lawmakers recently about the dangers their kids face due to Gov. Tim Walz’s executive order requiring participants to wear protective masks in practice and games.

The grassroots group Let Them Play MN showed legislators a video illustrating how masks affect students’ breathing, vision, and hearing in action.

Members of the Senate Health and Human Services Finance and Services Committee also got a firsthand account from parents who testified a mask played a role in the injury suffered by their children.

“As a result of this mask mandate, my son suffered a concussion,” said Corey Peterson of New Prague. “We’ve been training them for years to keep their heads up so they don’t become paralyzed. I’m thankful this was a concussion.”

“My daughter was participating at hockey practice wearing a face mask when she suddenly collapsed and fell to the ice,” said Bobby Trost, a mother from St. Francis. “After collapsing she remained face down on the ice for 20 seconds until she was attended to by her coaches.”

But a representative of the Minnesota Health Department shrugged off parents’ concerns, telling legislators the state has no proof the mask mandate has hurt anyone — yet.

“We do have sports injuries. We know that. But we have no evidence it is associated with or has been increased by masking,” MDH Assistant Commissioner Dan Huff said. “There have been a lot of anecdotal things that people  have heard. but the only three confirmed complaints are the ones I just mentioned and we don’t know if that was because of a mask or not. But what we do know is that there has not been a significant increase in injuries.”

Yet two January Let Them Play MN surveys of parents and participants involved in youth sports found hundreds of reports of incidents involving problems attributed to the protective masks.

And one legislator indicated fear that reporting injuries to sports associations or the state could lead to shutting down programs has led to underreporting, according to KARE-11 news.

Sen. Rich Draheim, the Mankato Republican who requested the hearing, said he believes the numbers of mask-related injuries are vastly undercounted because people don’t want their information used against them.

“I think people are afraid to report because they don’t want their program shut down,” Sen. Draheim said.

He asserted that parents, not the government, should be the ones making the final choices over whether their children wear masks while playing sports.

After the hearing, Let Them Play MN issued an appeal for parents and other members to contact the Minnesota Department of Health and their legislators with their stories of injuries suffered by students due to the mask mandate.

If your child has been injured due to wearing masks while playing sports, we need to you email your athlete’s injury/complication incidents to: [email protected].

Please also copy us at:  [email protected].

Including us on the email will help us know how many injuries have been reported to the state, so we can hold them accountable. It also gives us a larger group to invite to share their stories with lawmakers and members of the media, so we can visually represent more than three kids having problems and refute the MDH.

The federal judge overseeing Let Them Play MN’s lawsuit over the mask mandate is expected to rule soon as the faceoff between parents of youth athletes and state health officials continues to play out.