Sunday's NASCAR Cup Series race at the Atlanta Motor Speedway will enlist the help of COVID-19-detecting dogs as part of the track's health and safety protocols. The trained dogs will screen essential personnel and in less than 30 seconds be able to detect if the person has COVID-19, according to a report from USA Today. If the the virus is detected, the dogs will alert their handlers.
If a person is thought to have the virus after the screening, they will go to get screened by the American Medical Response (AMR) Safety Team's lead physicians for further evaluation to determine if they can enter the track.
Tom Bryant, NASCAR managing director of racing operations, told USA Today that the dogs will help solve a problem they've had "since March of last year."
"We think that these dogs and this capability is going to allow us to rapidly confirm that all of those people entering the essential footprint on Sunday — that's race teams, that's NASCAR officials, that's the vendors that work inside the garage — all those folks are COVID-free or not. The ability to do that has kind of been the math problem that we have continuously tried to solve since March of last year."
Fans attending the event and drivers in the race will not be screened by the dogs.
The 360 K9 Group that will be used on Sunday say the dogs in the program can locate COVID-19 in humans with a 98% accuracy rate.
"They are amazing. This gives us essentially an ability to test that essential population on race day and know right away that those folks who have cleared this enhanced screening process with a very high degree of confidence are COVID-free," Bryant said. "We'll learn from what we do Sunday, and we'll figure the ways to best employ this capability moving forward to ensure that we're keeping the population as safe as we can, keeping the least amount of risk in the environment."
NASCAR is not the first professional sports league to use COVID-detecting dogs at events. The Miami Heat also used them to screen people heading into games back in January.