Heat to use COVID-detecting dogs on fans when arena re-opens

Jack Baer
·2 min read

The Miami Heat are planning to allow fans into AmericanAirlines Arena again starting on Jan. 28, and those fans can expect the usual gamut of COVID-19 precautions: mandatory masks, social distancing, increased cleaning, limited attendance.

And dogs.

The Heat recently released guidelines for fans planning to attend a game, and it included an entire video, seen above, showing how a group of specially trained dogs will be on hand to sniff fans to see if they have COVID-19 as they enter the arena. Because apparently dogs can do that now.

Specifically, fans will stand in a distanced line, at which point an employee will guide a dog past the line. If a dog signals it has detected the coronavirus by sitting down in front of a person, that person and their entire group will be denied entry to the arena. Around 1,500 fans are expected to be allowed into games, limited to season ticket holders.

Even fans who have received the COVID-19 vaccine will be required to undergo the process, though the Heat say these dogs have been “specifically trained to identify active virus.” If a person is, say, uncomfortable around dogs or highly allergic, the Heat say they can undergo an alternative testing method for entry at no cost, but will take up to 45 minutes.

So if you love Heat basketball and hate dogs, get to the arena early.

Yes, dogs really can detect COVID-19

TOPSHOT - The coronavirus sniffer dog named E.T. receives a cuddle from the trainer Anette Kare at the Helsinki airport in Vantaa, Finland, where he is trained to detect the Covid-19 from the arriving passengers, on September 22, 2020. (Photo by Antti Aimo-Koivisto / Lehtikuva / AFP) / Finland OUT (Photo by ANTTI AIMO-KOIVISTO/Lehtikuva/AFP via Getty Images)
Dogs have been detecting COVID-19 in other countries for a while. (Photo by ANTTI AIMO-KOIVISTO/Lehtikuva/AFP via Getty Images)

Coronavirus detection dogs are a recent development, but studies have shown them to be decently effective.

An early-stage study just last month saw detection dogs trained for one to three weeks identified between 76 percent and 100 percent of coronavirus-positive samples from underarm swabs. Pretty good for an act that takes mere seconds compared to even the most rapid COVID-19 tests, which also have their own error rates.

Other countries have put such dogs to use for months in airports, and you can imagine other sports teams might have an interest in the canines as they do everything they can to get fans back in their stadiums.

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