It is, admittedly, probably not the best idea to go to an NBA game while the COVID-19 pandemic is going on. Having said this, teams that are able to admit fans are doing what they can to create safe environments for those in attendance — mask wearing, having folks keep their distance, all the stuff that serves as an attempt to make this situation feasible.
The Miami Heat are getting in on the “have fans in attendance” thing starting on Jan. 28, when the team hosts the Los Angeles Clippers. The full guidelines the team will follow are laid out here, but one sticks out: there’s gonna be COVID detection dogs.
As the team explains, these dogs have been trained to identify if someone actively has the virus, and all fans (save for those who are not comfortable around dogs and want to opt for a different testing method that is not specified, but “can take up to 45 minutes”) who want to attend a game will have to go through the screening, and if anyone is identified by the dog, both they and the group they’re trying to attend the game with will be denied entry.
Now, you are probably trying to figure out how in God’s name this work, but guess what! This has been done elsewhere already — as the United Nations laid out last month, Finland’s Helsinki-Vantaa airport uses COVID detection dogs which apparently have “an accuracy level of nearly 100% even 5 days before actual symptoms appear.”
“It turned out that training the dogs is a relatively quick process and results were surprisingly good and promising. A dog is capable of detecting the presence of the coronavirus within 10 seconds and the entire process takes less than a minute to complete”, says project manager Soile Turunen of the Wise Nose scent-detection foundation.
“Dogs learn fast to detect the virus but in addition to the smell of coronavirus, they need to be trained to function in the airport environment which might take more time. Usually the training takes 1-3 months all together”, says project manager Turunen
I am not a scientist, nor am I an expert in dogs, nor am I someone who could even begin to comprehend how any of this works, but if this works, well, more power to the Miami Heat, I guess. Just please do not bring treats to a Heat game if you plan on attending, those dogs have work to do.