Unusual times call for unusual measures, but a strong COVID-19 defense doesn’t necessarily ensure a win on the court.
The Miami Heat used coronavirus-sniffing dogs to screen fans entering American Airlines Arena in hopes of preventing the spread of COVID-19.
The COVID-busting canines did their part, but the Heat fell short in a 98-85 loss.
Dogs were trained to walk past attendees who were not detected as having the coronavirus and sit next to someone who is detected with the virus.
Coronavirus sniffing dogs have already been used at airports in Dubai and Helsinki.
A 2020 German study found that canines correctly detected COVID-19 94 percent of the time.
Maren von Koeckritz-Blickwede conducted the study which had dogs sniff the saliva of 1,000 individuals. “We think that the dogs are able to detect a specific smell of the metabolic changes that occur in those patients,” she said.
The Heat had used dogs previously for games attended by friends and family of players and staff, but this week a limited number of fans are allowed to attend games as long as they get past the pooches, fill out a health questionnaire, and wear a mask.
Matthew Jafarian, the Heat’s executive vice president for business strategy, explained that using dogs is a well-established protocol.
“If you think about it, detection dogs are not new,” said Jafarian. “You’ve seen them in airports, they’ve been used in mission-critical situations by the police and the military. We’ve used them at the arena for years to detect explosives.”
The Heat plans on keeping attendance at 2,000, just ten percent of the building’s occupancy.
“Please note that seating will be very limited, as we will be observing proper physical distancing,” the team’s letter to season-ticket holders read.
The Heat will look to get back on the winning track against the Nuggets on Wednesday and the Clippers Thursday.
The coronavirus sniffing canines are 1-0.