Dogs are just the best. They’re man’s best friend, always here to comfort us, tails wagging and ready to play at a moment’s notice. And now, NASCAR is even using them to screen their garage area for COVID.
The sport announced earlier this week that they would be using COVID-sniffing dogs to screen some essential personnel entering Sunday’s Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The dogs, which are trained by 360 K9 Group in Alabama and Florida, can assess a person in less than 30 seconds to determine whether COVID-19 is detected. Clinical studies have shown that the dogs have a 98% accuracy rate, the same rate as a PCR test.
That’s a VERY good boy.
If a dog alerts their handler that COVID is detected, that person will be isolated and screened by NASCAR’s safety team to determine whether they will be able to participate in the race.
NASCAR plans to use today’s race at Atlanta as a sort of trial run for the dogs. And while today’s screenings won’t include drivers or fans, NASCAR plans to take what they learn to develop a comprehensive plan for both competitor and guest areas at the track.
Said NASCAR’s managing director of racing operations Tom Bryant:
“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.
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.”
The COVID-sniffing dogs have already been used at other large-scale events like Miami Heat games and at international airports, and they provide a way for large crowds of people to be scanned much faster than they would be if nasal swab tests were required for each person entering the garage area. And according to Bryant, NASCAR’s decision to use the dogs was all about speed:
“It is a matter primarily of speed. When you combine the speed of the dog with the accuracy level that they’re seeing from the dogs, we’ve not found a test yet that gives you that high a degree of confidence that it’s correct in that short amount of time.”
As a fan and somebody who’s just ready to see things get back to normal, it’s exciting to hear about these kinds of advancements in screening that could allow for us to get back to regular crowds, not just at sporting events, but other large-scale events like concerts and music festivals, much sooner than we would if we just relied on conventional nasal swabs and vaccines.
And let’s be honest – who’s going to complain about having more dogs around?
Nice way to start a race day. Pupper dog smells your hand and let's you go to work. Science is neat.