Masks, Sports, and COVID-19

Izzy wears a mask for all sports!

As Pediatricians and pediatric nurse practictioners, it is our job to protect and advocate for the health of ALL children. As such, the clinicians at All About Children Pediatrics fully believe in, and will continue to support, the public health efforts as set forth by the Minnesota Department of Health, Governor Walz, and the Americian Academy of Pediatrics. 

The executive order mandates that a mask be worn while indoors in public spaces - even while playing sports.

* We at ACC will be honoring this mandate and will NOT be writing ANY letters for mask exemptions.*

For additional guidance and information, the following was written by our colleague at Children's Respiratory and Critical Care Specialists (CRCCS) Dr. Brooke Moore:

Can my provider at CRCCS write a letter to exempt my child from wearing a mask while playing sports?

We are here to help you stay healthy and safe during the COVID19 pandemic. We support the executive order that mandates a mask be worn while indoors in public spaces, even while playing sports. 

The best available evidence shows that wearing a mask in public reduces the the spread of COVID19 and also offers some protection to the wearer.  In addition, studies have shown that oxygena and carbon dioxie levels remain syable among people wearing masks. It is very unlikely for oxygen levels to decrease or carbon dioxide levels to rise while wearing the type of masks recommended by the CDC.  In general, people with asthma, both young and old, are not at risk of trouble breathing by wearing a facial covering. Therefore the providers and nurse at CRCCS will not provde mask exemption letters.

Part of being on a team is defending and protecting your teammates.  One of the best ways that athletes can do that is to wear a mask or cloth face coverings for most sports to reduce the risk of spreading the virus that causes COVID-19.

The most common reason that people have trouble with masks are the material or fit of the mask.  You may have to try different options to find the best mask for you or your child.  When choosing a mask, it does not have to be tight-fitting.  Many can wear a loose fitting mask that covers the nose and mouth, but does not fall off.  It should not be so tight around the ears and neck that it makes breathing uncomfortable.  A loose fitting mask does not really protect the wearer, but does decrease spread of respiratory droplets and protects others.  While we do not endorse any particular brand of mask, we have heard from some patients that the Under Armour sports mask works well.  We have also heard that silicone mask cages/brackets that pull the mask away fromt the face are helpful.  For hockey players CCM has developed their "Game on mask" for improved airflow and less condensation.

Wearing a mask for extended periods of time can be uncomfortable for anyone.  Have your child practice wearing it while doing drills or playing their sport before the season starts.  If the cloth face covering is removed for a break, the athlete should remain at least 6 feet away from all individuals. 

Some additional tips about masks during sports:

Have a special place to store the mask - your child might keep it in the same spot in their sports bag when they are not wearing it. 

Keep it clean - Just like you should sanitize sports equipment before and after each use, wash cloth face coverings daily in hot water.  Do not reuse cloth face coverings until they have been cleaned. 

Set a good example - Coaches, officials, volunteers, and spectators should also protect themseleves and others by always wearing cloth face coverings.  by doing this, they are also setting a good example for young athletes. 

Remember - Wearing cloth face coverings whenever possible and safe helps young athletes protect their teammates, themselves, and the sports season. 

If your child cannot wear a mask because it interferes with breathing, and you have tried implementing our desensitization protocol, please schedule an in-person appointment with your CRCCS provider.  Your child will need to keep their mask on for the duration of the visit. We will examine them while the mask is on and monitor their oxygen saturations.  If necessary, a 6-minute walk test that measures their oxygen level with activity may be ordered.  The safety and health of our patients, families, and community is our top priority.  Until new therapies or the COVID19 vaccine is approved for children, wearing a mask, excellent hand hygeine, and social distancing are the best defenses we have. 

Resources/references:

https://www.aappublications.org/news/2020/12/04/sportsguidance120420

https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/COVID-19/Pages/Why-Cloth-Face-Coverings-are-Needed-in-Youth-Sports-During-COVID-19.aspx

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27274679/

https://www.health.state.mn.us/diseases/coronavirus/sportsguide.pdf

https://www.underarmour.com/en-us/p/ua-sportsmask/195250918950.html

https://ccmhockey.com/en/product/accessories/player/facemasks-and-more/skater-game-mask

https://www.crccs.com/covid-faqs/

 

It is important for all of us to continue working together to help slow the spread and end this COVID19 pandemic. 

PLEASE keep wearing your masks, washing your hands, and distancing - as these are the best public health mitigation measures we have at this time. 

Additionally, please remain vigilant and have patience, as we wait for the COVID19 vaccine to be available for our familes and patients.  Together we can and do make a difference in keeping our children, familes, friends, and neighbors healthy and safe!

~Izzy and all of us at All About Children Pediatrics

Author
Dr. Christina E. Dewey, MD, FAAP Christina Dewey, MD, FAAP Dr. Dewey has been providing passionate, thorough, family centered and complete care to newborns, children, adolescents, and young adults in the Twin Cities metro area since 2002. Areas of interest include adolescents, mental health, and preventative care and wellness, and she is experienced at caring for children with complicated medical issues. Dr. Dewey enjoys partnering with patients and their families, helping and guiding through all stages of a child's life - from birth to young adulthood. See bio link for further info:https://www.allaboutchildren.net/provider/christina-e-dewey-md

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